The Introduction to Urban Studies course led by Professor Robin Jones has been a great success at USF during the fall 2012 semester. For children and families in the Sulphur Springs community it has been inspirational. With the help of civic organizations, students got the opportunity to understand the reality of urbanization affecting people and their communities.
Students prepared to go into the community by reading Geoffrey Canada’s Fist Stick Gun Knife, learning about successful school programs as concentric circles that can turn around a community. With their knowledge from the classroom, students were able to get a deeper understanding of living situations for children and families in the Sulphur Springs area by volunteering at community centers.
In one project, USF students built a “living” sculpture with the children to connect the community with the history of the Moses House. “It was a visual description of themselves and their lifestyles and beliefs that attracted the attention of other kids in the neighborhood,” said Max Segal.
Other students partook in a reading program at the YMCA, and another group served in the classroom by aiding teachers and younger students. Most students served as a mentor and teacher to the children, but also as a friend. By the end of the semester the students grew close to the children, and despite the age differences, both were able to learn from one another.
After their service-learning projects with the community, the students shared their experiences in a final presentation to describe their involvement in helping children in Sulphur Springs. Along with being a positive role model and building relationships with the children, these projects served as an influential learning experience for the USF students. Even though the class is officially over, many students are looking forward in continuing to serve in their communities.
This will be the last year Professor Jones will lead this Urban Studies class, as she is retiring in 2013 after fifteen years at USF. She has developed this course over a period of five years, expanding and improving her partnerships with Sulphur Springs institutions. As a result of her efforts, some 200 undergraduate students have had the opportunity to connect with Sulphur Springs youth; many have noted that this experience has affected them deeply, and for some it has shaped career choices. This sort of long-term partnership, profiting USF students and neighbors, exemplifies engaged learning and its multiple benefits.
Final Presentations are listed below: