Service focus of new course pathway

Tech will begin offering a new public service pathway for a variety of majors next semester as part of the ongoing Serve-Learn-Sustain initiative.

The pathway will offer a blend of classroom and service-based learning in hopes of fostering a stronger relationship between Tech and the metro Atlanta community, with a focus being placed on sustainability.

“We want to help students, faculty and staff who have projects whether they’re in classes, out of classes, or with various communities and organizations, to bolster the civic engagement of Tech as an institution and be better neighbors,” said Carl DiSalvo, director of the Public Service Pathway and associate director of Literature, Media and Communications. “We know that we’ve gotten interest from every college on campus, so these are not just going to be from engineering or liberal arts or architecture. The classes and projects are going to range that variety of interests. It could be that you want to bring in some speakers from the community and facilitate discussion, it could be that you actually want to do a community mapping project and go out and map assets with volunteers, it could be that you want to bolster an existing project.”

The pathway was designed and planned in part during a public workshop held at Tech on Sept. 30, which was coordinated by DiSalvo.

“What was amazing was the diversity of the people in the room,” DiSalvo said. “We had community members from different organizations who were voicing their opinions about these projects and relationships … Everyone was showing a real interest across the Institute and with our community partners in making something happen. And there will be more of those workshop events. The thought is that every semester for the next several years there’ll be a workshop that tries to bring together community members with Tech students, faculty and staff. It’s at least a two
year project.”

Students interested in getting involved with the pathway have a number of options to do so.

“If you’re a part of a student organization, you can propose a project,” DiSalvo said. “So, you might meet with other students in the organization and ask ‘Hey, there’s this opportunity to get some funding and support, what’s a project we might do?’ That’s a way students can get involved and take some leadership. Additionally, if you happen to be a graduate student and you’re teaching a course, you can also propose a related project.”

Proposals for new courses and projects under the Public Service Pathway for the Spring 2016 semester are due Nov. 2, and accepted proposals will be announced after Thanksgiving through the Serve-Learn-Sustain email newsletter.

DiSalvo feels that the Public Service Pathway initiative has a bright future.

“We plan to continue supporting [public service pathways] for as long as we have funding, and even after that the infrastructure we have with Serve-Learn-Sustain is a long-term commitment,” DiSalvo said. “This should become another way that students experience Georgia Tech and that Georgia Tech connects to the Metro region.”

Currently, DiSalvo hopes to gradually increase the number of classes offered over a number of semesters, with an eventual goal of having the capability to viably structure classes and projects around the provision of the services.