The Association of American Colleges & Universities has awarded a mini-grant to Sage, to advance civic learning and social responsibility in Chemistry and Mathematics classes.
The grant is part of AAC&U’s Civic Prompts: Civic Learning in the Major by Design initiative. The initiative, supported by the Endeavor Foundation, is intended to promote civic education and social responsibility within a major or specialized program at colleges and universities.
Civic education is not new to Sage, but is becoming more widespread across departments, in part due to the new Office of Service Learning. The office was established to incorporate community-engaged courses in more majors and earlier in students’ academic careers said its director, Ali Schaeffing.
Schaeffing recently worked with Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Emilly Obuya, Ph.D., to replace standard lab instruction with project-specific experiments of local and global significance in Obuya’s spring 2018 Intro to Research Methods class. Students worked with River Haggie Outdoors (run by Russell Sage College alumna Fran Martino) and the Rensselaer Land Trust to measure and analyze contamination in the Hudson River. The students also conducted research supported by Professor Obuya’s EPA grant to develop a water filtration system for use in the developing world.
The AAC&U grant will support a task force and departmental retreat to help build on the success of Intro to Research Methods and other recently-developed STEM-focused service learning courses. “We are looking into converting an existing 100-level statistics course into a service learning course,” said Schaeffing. “We would partner with a local organization in need of statistical analysis that may lack the capacity or resources for the work themselves.”
Sage’s mini-grant was one of 24 awarded by AAC&U out of 134 applications it received.