|Submission Date||March 19, 2014|
Coordinator for Community-Based Learning
Rubenstein School for the Environment and Natural Resources
For many faculty, staff, and students, community-based scholarship and collaborative problem-solving is an essential element in the field of environment, sustainability, and natural resources. For the past six academic years, the Rubenstein School of Environment & Natural Resources (RSENR) at UVM has worked closely with UVM’s Office of Community-University Partnerships and Service-Learning (CUPS) to support community engagement in the School. Since 2008 RSENR has supported a staff member to specifically focus on community-based learning, first as an Americorps position and in more recent years as a partial RSENR employee.
In the 2008/2009 academic year, there were 17 courses taught using the pedagogy of service-learning (and designated through the CUPS Office) in RSENR. Since then, the number has increased, with 30 service-learning courses taught throughout 2012-13 and just as many expected for the current academic year. Examples of these courses include Campus Sustainability, Adaptation to Climate Change, Forest Ecosystem Health, Restoration of Altered Ecosystems, and Environmental Problem-Solving. Students engaged in over 130 distinct service-learning projects in 2012-2013 through partnerships with at least 90 different community groups, nonprofit organizations, schools, churches, municipalities, UVM departments, and state and federal agencies – many of whom have engaged in service-learning projects with UVM in the past. In addition to the service-learning, many RSENR students engage in internships, especially in the summer, for up to 6 academic credits. Over the past three years, the RSENR perennial internship program has established relationships with 12 community partners that will offer paid summer internships to RSENR students every year. Information about RSENR’s commitment to community engagement and collaboration with community partnerships (including a list of community partner organizations) around the many facets of sustainability can be found on the Office of Experiential Learning’s webpage.