Service-Learning & Civic Engagement
2012 Service-Learning Fellows
(In Alphabetical Order)
Service-learning is a curricular-based educational experience in which students participate in organized activities that meet community needs and then reflect upon their experiences, tying them to course content, a broader appreciation of their discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility. Each Fellow received a $750 honorarium and a handsome commemorative plaque awarded at the Community Engagement Center’s “Thank You and Recognition Event” on April 18, 2012.
A magna cum laude graduate of Southern Utah University in 1995 (B.S. in Communication Studies), Associate Professor Matt Barton teaches a wide variety of undergraduate classes that include Interpersonal Communication, Persuasion, and Communication Theory, along with graduate courses that focus on Health Communication and Popular Culture, respectively. Matt earned an M.A. at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and completed his doctoral degree in 2002 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Matt has developed four different service-learning opportunities for students enrolled in COMM 4504, Health Communication, all of which focus on an “underserved” population in the Cedar City area. First offering students an opportunity to serve senior citizens through support of “Meals on Wheels,” Matt expanded course options to serve women and children victimized by domestic abuse and SUU students who may short-term disaster relief (like an earthquake). “It might seem odd to think about undergraduate students as an ‘underserved population,’” Matt explains, “but many of our students would be unable to run home to family members in the event of a disaster and would need to rely almost entirely on their own resources.” Matt and his students have begun to create portable and personalized 72-hour sustainability kits. Reflection exercises include frequent team discussions, twice- monthly class meetings, and written reports that support in-class presentations.
A Cedar High School alumnus, Nica Clark has used her background in biology, nutrition, and dietetics in a number of ways after graduating in 1997 from the University of Utah with a B.S. in Biology. She helped to coordinate clinical trials at a Phoenix hospital while working with major pharmaceutical companies. She earned an M.S. in Nutrition & Dietetics at the University of Utah in 2004 and switched gears to become a consulting dietitian with a national corporation. After moving to St. George and working as a registered dietitian for the WIC program, Nica started teaching as a lecturer at SUU in 2011 where she happily offers classes in general education nutrition and in clinical, culinary, and community nutrition.
Students enrolled in NFS 4480, Community Nutrition, are expected to serve at least one hour per week at a selected site. Working with Clark, students address issues that include hunger, obesity, and nutrition education. In Fall 2011, students completed service at a number of community such as the Iron County Care and Share, Bishop’s Storehouse, and the Iron County School District (Cedar High School and East Elementary School). They also assisted campus programs such as the HOPE Food Pantry and Bread & Soup Nite. As part of their learning, students maintain a written journal, compile photographs, and offer in-class presentations. Clark was pleased to see that service-learning proved to be transformative for many students. One student commented that “I was expecting to hate this service, and it ended up being my favorite part of the class.” Another stated: “I am of the opinion that most classes offered here at SUU should be service learning. . . . It is a great way to get out in the community and make a difference. . . This experience has changed me.”
Employed at SUU since 1999, Professor Britton Mace teaches an introductory level course in General Psychology; courses in Social, Cognitive and Environmental psychology; a Research Designs course; and a capstone Literature Review course. He earned a B.S. degree in 1992 at California State University, followed by M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Environmental and Social Psychology at Colorado State University.
Group service projects in Environmental Psychology (PSY 3500) allow students to learn more about interactions between the person and the environment. Topics range from the very broad (such as sustainability) to the very specific (design alternatives in built environments). A major focus is to explore how place impacts an individual’s cognition, affect, and behavior. In selecting and designing their service-learning projects, students have much latitude in identifying a local need with the support of Professor Mace and their community partner. Completed projects have included everything from playground design and construction to the implementation of recycling programs in local businesses and to flood control and stream restoration along the Virgin and Santa Clara rivers. In Fall 2011, students spent hundreds of hours working with local residents, the Cedar City Recreation Department, and the Cedar City Council to begin planning a dog park for the community. Mace explains what students gain through these service-learning experiences: “Learning about the physical environment and community engagement creates a stronger attachment to the place where they live and go to school, and fosters a willingness to become involved wherever their careers may take them.”