Senior Lindsay Sockwell, one of the first Engaged Learning grant recipients, experienced her own “journey of discovery” this past summer while working with orphans in Zambia. She used her skills as a dance performance major with a psychology minor to inspire the children, most of whom lost their parents to the AIDS epidemic in Africa. “I had spent time in Africa last year and saw how the children’s facial expressions changed in the presence of music and dance,” Sockwell says, “and I became interested in how that could be therapeutic for orphaned kids in Zambia.” Sockwell divided her time in Zambia’s capital of Lusaka between a summer camp and an orphanage, both operated by Family Legacy Missions International of Irving. She worked with a group of boys ages 4-16 for two weeks and helped lead dance sessions within large-group gatherings for another two weeks. Sockwell and other counselors taught the children songs through repetition and taught dance movements that used symbolic gesture because most of the children don’t speak English. The youngsters reciprocated by teaching the Americans a few songs in their tribal language. Sockwell advises other SMU students who develop an engagement project: “Prepare for your life to be changed. My experience has put hundreds of faces and names to the staggering statistics about life in Africa. This kind of knowledge changes things.” James Quick, SMU’s associate vice president for research and dean of graduate studies, [...]
Senior and grant recipient Michael McCarthy, a double major in statistics and mathematics, is using his knowledge to analyze data for Veterans Affairs in Dallas while covering school expenses. Receiving the Engaged Learning grant enabled him to participate in the program by replacing the salary he otherwise would earn working part time, which he needs to do to cover school expenses. McCarthy is conducting database analysis that evaluates home care support the VA Spinal Cord Injury Center provides to injured veterans. “My experience at the VA already has begun to shape my post-graduation and career plans,” McCarthy says. “I’m now considering an applied statistics Master’s program to further my ability to assist with these types of statistical projects and use data analysis techniques to answer important questions. I’ve also become interested in biostatistics and health care data analysis.” The Engaged Learning program resulted from work by the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Committee, created in 2009 to develop a plan to help SMU enhance its educational mission and qualify for reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The Quality Enhancement Plan is a new requirement by SACS that presented a “great opportunity for SMU to coalesce around a strategic plan for improving student learning,” says committee chair Margaret Dunham, professor of computer science and engineering in the Lyle School of Engineering. QEP Committee members represented a cross section of the SMU community, from [...]
The new program will build on elements of the new University Curriculum, which will debut in fall 2012. Starting then, students will be required to engage with local and global communities around issues of civic responsibility and cultural understanding either through coursework, volunteer opportunities, or study abroad. The Engaged Learning program takes students a step further: They can enhance their experiences through independently designed projects that require more depth and serious commitments of both time and effort. A major component of Engaged Learning requires the students to write reports about their projects, reflecting on their experiences. All students’ reports will be published in an online journal organized by Central University Libraries. As SMU’s first director of Engaged Learning, Susan Kress serves as a facilitator who will build on experiential learning programs that already exist at SMU under a variety of names. She previously served as SMU’s director of Education Abroad in the International Center. “I’m eager to help the University broaden opportunities for engaged learning and to get students excited about trying out what they are learning in the classroom through real-life work,” Kress says. “Engaged learners explore who they want to be, not just what they want to do.” Senior Matt Gayer, who served on the QEP Committee, is a prime example of a student who has channeled his academic interests into community engagement. Majoring in public policy and political science with minors in [...]
Grant recipient and sophomore Jaywin Malhi also praises the Engaged Learning program. Malhi is a political science and business management major who plans to attend law school and is considering a career in public service. Because he wants to learn firsthand how government works, he proposed and received a Congressional internship for summer 2012. “Engaged Learning is so broad that you’ll be surprised by what projects might be deemed applicable,” Malhi says. “Pursue your interests, and, most likely, the program will be able to help you.” The stories of Meera, Lindsay, Michael, Matt, Colby and Jaywin are early examples of the enthusiasm that SMU administrators hope will grow in years to come. “Engaged learning is not a gimmick but an important concept that requires nurturing and focus,” Ludden says. “After students learn to observe and listen to the needs of the world, they come up with strategies for making improvements. And if thousands of students from each class experience the power of engagement, SMU is convinced that each student can leave a positive mark on society.”
Senior Colby Kruger wanted to expand her previous volunteer services for Girls Incorporated of Metropolitan Dallas. With her Engaged Learning grant, she is teaching photography to teens from low-income neighborhoods while encouraging them to develop a realistic understanding of beauty. The business marketing major, who has a double minor in photography and art history, is working through a partnership with Girls Inc. “I’ve had this idea for a workshop for about a year,” says Kruger. But what she lacked was equipment. The SMU grant enabled her to buy 18 cameras to teach the girls photographic skills. “I was so excited to make this dream into a reality.” Engaged Learning: Jaywin Malhhi ... next page
Perkins School of Theology programs put faith into practice in the community through experiences that integrate classroom learning with hands-on ministry. One example – available to students taking “Theory and Practice of Evangelism” – is a four-week immersion opportunity with New Day, a network of missional micro-communities. Developed in large measure by Elaine A. Heath, McCreless Associate Professor of Evangelism, New Day communities bring people together across racial, ethnic, educational and economic divides. They are located in the Vickery Meadow and West Dallas neighborhoods as well as in Garland. About a dozen students participate each semester. As part of the program, they attend a weekly community meal and worship gathering, as well as monthly outreach activities that usually include a cookout, soccer, music and games. Students also assist with English for speakers of other languages classes and activities for newly arrived immigrants and refugees. “This assignment is valuable because it introduces students to an alternative form of church, one that is grounded in at-risk neighborhoods and that uses a team leadership approach in all aspects of church life,” says Heath, who introduced the community-based experience in her evangelism class two years ago. “The New Day model is becoming widely known throughout The United Methodist Church, and judicatory leaders across the nation are taking an interest in the model as a way forward for the church to become more missional here in the United States.”
SMU’s Human And Intellectual Capital Read more about SMU programs that have a major impact on the greater Dallas community. Cox School of Business: Executive education programs Dedman College: “Latino/Latina Religions” Dedman School of Law: Legal Advocacy for the Underserved Lyle School of Engineering: The Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity Meadows School of the Arts: “Artspace: Mapping Sites of Social Change” Perkins School of Theology: “Theory and Practice of Evangelism” Simmons School of Education and Human Development: Center on Communities and Education Over the past century, the “town” and “gown” have flourished together. With more than 40,000 alumni now living and working in the area, the University’s DNA runs through the economic, civic and cultural networks of greater Dallas. “Universities bring intellectual capital to their regions. They bring young, talented students. They create new knowledge through faculty research, resulting in new corporations and business opportunities. They elevate civic dialogue and contribute to cultural vibrancy. They serve as a city’s conscience, and they set the standard for civic discourse and free expression,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said at SMU’s Centennial Academic Symposium. “SMU has done all of this for Dallas. … Dallas would not be the intellectual, business, cultural and philanthropic powerhouse that it is, were SMU not to have been founded 100 years ago.” Forbes magazine ranked Dallas a top-10 city for businesses and entrepreneurs in June, calling it “one of the most resilient economies during the recession” and [...]
SMU’s sacred music program emphasizes musical training as much as theological education – potential students must audition to be accepted into the Meadows School, in addition to being admitted into the Perkins School. Meadows provides a major portion of the music education aspect of the Perkins degree, including applied instruction in organ and voice, as well as conducting, techniques courses, music history, and performance opportunities, says Pamela Elrod, associate professor of music and director of choral activities in Meadows. “The partnership is a natural one to begin with, since music is so integral to the worship process. The church was, for centuries, the most important arts patron in the world. So a huge portion of the greatest choral music ever composed is essentially church music – and thankfully, that legacy is still present in many churches today,” Elrod adds. Several M.S.M. alumni were recognized recently for their artistic success in the secular realm of music performance. Keith Weber ’88 and Matthew Dirst ’85 received a 2011 Grammy nomination for Best Opera Recording for Johann Adolf Hasse’s Marco Antonio e Cleopatra,produced by Weber with Dirst conducting the Ars Lyrica Houston, a group of musicians who perform Baroque music using period instruments. Perkins Associate Professor of Sacred Music Christopher Anderson ’91 earned both the M.S.M. and Master of music degrees from SMU. He recognizes that many of his students are attracted to the interdisciplinary nature of the M.S.M. program, interested in developing their musical artistry [...]
Black Alumni of SMU launched the project with a bread drive and were joined by other Mustangs at eXcuses eXtreme Café in Deep Ellum to make sandwiches. The food was distributed to the homeless through Random Acts of Kindness’ SoupMobile.
In Houston alumni distributed books donated by Half Price Books and discussed the importance of reading with youngsters involved in the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) at Sharpstown College Prep School. Kipp Sharpstown’s goal is to help students become lifelong learners capable of excelling in college by fostering self-reliance, honor, achievement, responsibility to others and persistence.