Kimberly Skobba, an assistant professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, says she feels a huge sense of pride in her students at the end of every service-learning project. Last fall, they built a tiny house from the ground up.
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I earned my bachelor’s degree in communications from Augsburg College in Minneapolis and my master’s and Ph.D. (both in housing studies) from the University of Minnesota’s College of Design. I am currently an assistant professor of financial planning, housing and consumer economics in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, where I am responsible for teaching courses in housing management, policy and community development. When I’m not teaching, I am working on or writing about one of several research projects on housing insecurity and community development.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I came to UGA in fall 2011 as a new assistant professor. I chose UGA because it offered a program in housing similar to the one at the University of Minnesota. It provided the opportunity to teach and develop courses in my area of interest and it gave me the opportunity to pursue my research interests at a large land-grant university.
What are your favorite courses and why?
I love teaching courses that have a service-learning or project-based learning component because they provide a different learning experience for the students and they provide me with the opportunity to work with students outside of a traditional classroom setting. You learn a lot about people when you are building a house with them or driving in a van for a couple of hours.
What interests you about your field?
Most of my research interests start with the meaning and importance of housing in our lives. I am interested in understanding what happens when low-income households do not have stable housing and how different housing policies address basic housing needs. I am also interested in how communities plan for the housing needs of their residents. Studying housing at both the household and community level is particularly interesting to me because what works well for communities as a whole may not be in the best interest of the residents or vice versa.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
Taking students on a six-week study abroad tour in London. Being a part of the Lilly Teaching Fellows program. I have learned so much and have met an amazing group of people as a Lilly Fellow.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
I find that my research and teaching have become more intertwined over the last five years. Last year, I became the principal investigator on a five-year grant to study how communities use social capital to address housing and community development needs. The impetus for this research project came from the service-learning work in my “Housing and Community Development” (FHCE 4340S) course. The majority of the grant is dedicated to research, but it does include funding to enhance undergraduate students’ community development skills.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
I hope that students leave my classroom having experienced the course content in a different way, whether that be through service-learning, case studies or an assignment that gets them out into the Athens community. I also hope that their experience with me is a positive one and that they see me as someone who wants them to succeed.
Describe your ideal student.
Friendly, hard-working, open to learning and trying something new.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
There is really nothing like the UGA campus on game day. I am originally from Minnesota and people there do not turn out for any sport (even hockey) the way UGA fans do for football games.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
Spend time with my husband and four sons, eat at the many great restaurants in Athens, run, travel and watch Netflix.
Favorite book/movie (and why)?
I saw the movie “Creed” with my mom and son a few months ago. It wasn’t my favorite movie but it was one of my favorite movie experiences. My mom and I were big fans of the “Rocky” movies and so it felt like we were reliving a great memory from my childhood.
Proudest moment at UGA?
I feel a huge sense of pride in my students at the end of every service-learning project. Last fall, I taught a class on tiny houses with David Berle. The 13 students in the class built a tiny house from the ground up. As they pulled the house away, I had tears in my eyes.