Engaged Learning Initiative supports student projects
Students designed and undertook projects connecting work in the classroom with the outside world through research, civic projects, creative endeavors or internships under SMU’s Engaged Learning Initiative, a project of the Provost’s Office, in 2011-12. Projects included designing a compound, removing heavy metals from polluted environments and developing and delivering after-school programs for homeless children, among many others. Participants create a detailed proposal, may apply for a grant to cover project costs, receive supervision from a faculty mentor, and must deliver a public presentation and provide a written report summarizing the project.
Student travel educates future leaders and supports recruitment
Programs involving travel are a crucial component of the SMU experience, enhancing students’ education as future leaders and providing opportunities for community engagement, service and creative problem solving. These programs are also an important aspect of SMU’s initiatives to recruit the best students. Here are some examples from 2011-12:
- More than 150 students, faculty and staff members participated in 14 service trips during summer, fall, winter and spring breaks in 2011-12 through SMU Alternative Breaks, which celebrated the 25th anniversary of its founding. Students traveled to communities including Atlanta, to work with organizations serving veterans; New York, to deliver food to families in need; and Quito, Ecuador, to teach children English and math. During winter break, the student organization marked its 100th trip as students traveled to work with a community organization in Brownsville, Texas, where other SMU students had first served 25 years earlier.
- During SMU’s annual Civil Rights Pilgrimage, undergraduate and graduate students took a nine-day bus ride through the American South, where they visited civil rights landmarks and met with leaders in the movement. Dennis Simon, Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor in political science in Dedman College, led the spring break pilgrimage with SMU’s Chaplain’s Office. The group’s stops included Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas; the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama; and the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated.
- As part of the Embrey Human Rights Program in Dedman College, students visited sites of human rights abuses and conducted research around the world. In August, the program took students to Porto Alegre, Brazil, to learn about the country’s struggles with environmental abuses, women’s rights, poverty and military dictatorships. During winter break, students, professors and Dallas community members traveled to World War II concentration camps and memorials in Poland. During spring break, the program took students and community members to World War II sites in Latvia and Lithuania. The trips were led by Rick Halperin, director of the Embrey Human Rights Program.
- Undergraduate and graduate students participating in the Meadows School’s New York Colloquium took in the city’s culture during winter break. Led by Professor of Art Philip Van Keuren, the course included stops at the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and numerous galleries and studios. The students kept a record of their experiences and wrote about their new understanding of art.
- Students in a University Honors Program course on the Renaissance traveled to Italy during spring break. They visited sites including the Duomo and Galileo Museum in Florence and St. Mark’s Square in Venice. Kathleen Wellman, Dedman Family Distinguished Professor and chair of the Clements Department of History in Dedman College, led the course and trip, which gave students firsthand experiences of the sites associated with their readings and research projects.
Schools provide outreach in West Dallas
The Simmons School and the Meadows School provided outreach initiatives in underserved areas of West Dallas throughout 2011-12. The Simmons School’s Center for Communities and Education, in collaboration with the Dallas Faith Communities Coalition, promoted education reform through work with 10 public schools and 20 nonprofit agencies. Meadows School initiatives focused on mentoring young people and helping showcase the heritage of the Dallas Mexican-American community through videos, photographs, visual art and dance performances.
Graduate students work to improve water quality in Africa
A team of graduate students from Lyle School of Engineering, led by Andrew Quicksall, J. Lindsay Embrey Trustee Assistant Professor, traveled to Africa in October 2011 as part of a new research program to improve water quality at refugee camps. The team, supported by a $270,000 grant from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and additional SMU funds, collected water quality samples at UNHCR camps for analysis at SMU. The group also taught local workers to test water samples for contaminants and is developing a water quality database.