Purdue News

April 29, 2005

Service-learning projects to benefit community, students

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – From designing public relations campaigns for non-profit organizations to preserving and categorizing collectibles for the Tippecanoe County Historical Association, service-learning projects at Purdue University will benefit the Lafayette-West Lafayette community during the next academic year.

Five Purdue professors will receive $5,000 learning grants from the Office of the Provost to create more service-learning projects, through which students use their classroom experience to help the community.

Kristina Bross, associate professor of English; Mark Haugan, associate professor of physics; Mohan Dutta-Bergman, assistant professor of communication; Alka Harriger, professor of computer technology; and Mick La Lopa, associate professor of hospitality and tourism management, have been named as the 2005-2006 Community of Service-Learning Faculty Fellows.

Bross' students will catalog and preserve fragile items in the Tippecanoe County Historical Association's collection. The students' goal will be to make important records of local history more accessible to the community and academic researchers.

Haugan works with Purdue students in two physics outreach programs, coordinated by Julie Conlon, for elementary and secondary schools throughout Indiana. Physics Educational Activities, Resources and Learning Strategies (PEARLS) teaches physics to younger students in ways that motivate them to consider careers in science. Educating Next Generations and Generating Enthusiasm (ENGAGE) features Purdue physics students who offer innovative science and technology activities to K-12 students who otherwise would not have access to them.

Dutta-Bergman's students develop public relations campaigns for non-profit organizations in Lafayette-West Lafayette. Students perform research and market analysis before producing their marketing materials, which can be stored in a Web-based archive. Dutta-Bergman also received a separate grant from the Office of International Programs to set up a service-learning based study abroad program in rural India, through which students will develop communication strategies for non-governmental organizations.

Harriger's students develop interactive, customizable Web sites for community groups and organizations. Past clients have included Big Brothers/Big Sisters, West Lafayette Parks and Recreation, and the Wabash Valley Youth Symphony. Harriger will use the grant to purchase a Web server to house the client Web sites after the project ends. The server will provide more time to find a longer-term, affordable Web hosting solution for the clients.

La Lopa's students perform feasibility studies for non-profit agencies, such as the Museum at Prophetstown, to help them operate more efficiently. As part of the course requirement, students will offer suggestions on how to develop a new gift shop, expand the foodservice operation, and enhance the personal and educational services that are provided to the Museum at Prophetstown's visitors. La Lopa also has designed a workbook on service-learning as a faculty resource.

Marne Helgesen, who oversees Purdue's service-learning efforts and is director of the Center for Instructional Excellence, said the faculty fellows look forward to serving as campus leaders and service-learning mentors to other faculty.

"By designating service-learning fellows and funding their projects, the offices of the provost and engagement are supporting a critical mass of faculty members who ultimately will provide a groundswell of faculty, leading to the institutionalization of service-learning on campus," Helgesen said. "It's a rapidly growing effort with a huge payoff for both students, who obtain deeper learning of their discipline through real-life experiences, and the community."

Victor L. Lechtenberg, vice provost for engagement at Purdue, said service-learning projects such as Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS), which began at Purdue and has spread nationwide, have set the bar.

"Service-learning is a major trend with universities throughout the United States," Lechtenberg said. "At Purdue, we are leading the way and remain highly committed to it. Our students are eager to apply what they are learning and help others in the process."

Purdue also is a member of Campus Compact, a national advocacy group for service-learning. It includes hundreds of member universities nationwide, including 31 of Indiana's colleges and universities.

Writer: Marydell Forbes, (765) 496-7704, mforbes@purdue.edu

Sources: Marne Helgesen, (765) 496-6424, mhelgesen@purdue.edu

Victor L. Lechtenberg, (765) 494-9095, vll@purdue.edu

Kristina Bross, (765) 494-3745, kbross@purdue.edu

Mark Haugan, (765) 494-5504, haugan@purdue.edu

Mohan Dutta-Bergman, (765) 494-2587, mdutta@purdue.edu

Alka Harriger, (765) 494-2565, harrigea@purdue.edu

Mick La Lopa, (765) 494-6218, lalopam@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


Note to Journalists: The media can make arrangements with any of these professors to accompany classes on a service-learning project. Contact information is available at the bottom of the news release.


Related Web site:
Purdue University Office of Engagement


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