More than 400 faculty, students, and community partners from higher education institutions throughout the south and east will gather March 13-15 at Loews Vanderbilt Plaza for the sixth annual Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement in Higher Education. Hosted by Belmont University, the Summit will feature workshops and addresses by national leaders in service-learning. In addition, participants can select from over 110 presentations offered over three days on a wide range of programs and issues related to service-learning. Participants are expected from 33 states, representing over 150 different educational and community institutions.
The Gulf-South Summit is one of the leading national conferences on service-learning, and one of the few actively to include community leaders, students and faculty. Service-learning is one of the leading ways that colleges get their students involved in communities, and that universities and communities forge relationships. In a service-learning class, students engage with the community on projects that meet community needs and are related to the class subject. For example, environmental science students may work with a community garden, or business students with financial literacy programs, or English students with tutoring elementary students.
Marcia McDonald, Associate Provost at Belmont University and Chair of the Executive Committee for the Gulf-South Summit, said, “Service-learning is central to Belmont’s vision, and to the vision of many universities in the Nashville area, for a meaningful university education. Service-learning can be a life-transforming experience for students; it can also be a challenging experience for educators and community partners. The Summit is designed to bring together all the parties in a service-learning program and enable them to exchange best practices, innovative ideas and to learn about new initiatives on the national landscape.”
This year’s Summit will feature plenary addresses by Maureen Curley, president of the National Campus Compact, an alliance of colleges and universities committed to civic engagement; Dr. Meta Mendel-Reyes, Director of the Center for Excellence in Learning through Service, at Berea College, and author of a book and articles on service-learning; Dr. Marybeth Lima, Professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at Louisiana State University and recent recipient of the Ehrlich award, the major national award in service-learning; and Dr. Janet Eyler, Professor of the Practice of Education at Vanderbilt University, award-winner and a leading researcher on the impact of service learning on student learning. In addition, Dr. Lima, Dr. Barbara Moely of Tulane University and Dr. Edward Zlotkowski of Bentley College will present pre-conference workshops on developing service-learning courses and programs.
Belmont University faculty will provide four presentations. Dr. Jeff Cornwall is leading a panel on emerging Social Entrepreneurship programs. Dr. David Julseth will offer a student panel on the Engaged Scholars program. The long-standing partnership with Carter-Lawrence School will be the subject of a panel led by Dr. Linda Holt, and Dr. Bonnie Smith will speak about the service-learning study abroad trip to South Africa. In addition, “Rumba Roast,” the coffee developed by Belmont’s SIFE team, will be featured at one of the coffee breaks.
The Summit also presents awards for major contributions to service-learning. This year’s award winners include Vincent Ilustre, Director of the Center for Public Service at Tulane University (last year’s Summit host), for Outstanding Contributions to Service-Learning in Higher Education; Olinda Ricard, Nichols State University, for Outstanding Student Contributions to Service-Learning; Dr. Trae Stewart, University of Central Florida, for Outstanding Contributions to Service-Learning Research; and Connections for Life, a public service agency in Baton Rouge, LA, for Outstanding Community Partner. In addition, Michele James-Deramo of Virginia Tech University and Roger Henry of Brevard Community College will be given commendations for their Outstanding Contributions to Service-Learning in Higher Education.
The Summit benefits from an active Local Arrangements committee headed by Marcia McDonald and Tim Stewart, Coordinator for Community Service at Belmont. Members include Robert Bradley, Tennessee State University; Allison Cruz, Vanderbilt University; Meredith Freeman, Volunteer Tennessee; Judy Freudenthal, Director, Oasis Center; Sue Fuller, Director of Service-Learning and Professor of Education, Tennessee State University; Mani Hull, Tennessee Campus Compact; Matthew Little, Nashville State Community College; Shelia Peters, Associate Provost, Fisk University; Christian Schatzer, Director of SALT, Lipscomb U; David Sevier, State of Tennessee; and Nanci Alsup, Program Manager, Teaching Center, Belmont University.
Previous Summits have been hosted by Tulane University, Brevard Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi. Next year’s Summit will be hosted by Louisiana State University. For more information on the this year’s Gulf-South Summit, click here.