Story posted March 13, 2006
Associate Professor of Sociology Joe Bandy is one of three of Maine's most community-minded college professors recently honored with the 2006 Donald Harward Faculty Award for Service-Learning Excellence. The Harward Award is given annually by Maine Campus Compact, a statewide coalition of college and university presidents established to encourage and enhance campus engagement in the community.
The Donald Harward Faculty Award for Service-Learning Excellence, named for the former Bates College president and Maine Campus Compact founder, recognizes faculty for their accomplishments in service learning, an instructional method in which students enrich their learning through involvement in service that meets a community need.
Joe Bandy has been teaching through service learning since 2000, in both his sociology and environmental studies courses. By the end of the spring 2006 semester, over 200 Bowdoin students will have worked on 30 different community projects under Bandy's guidance.
Bandy uses a problem-based model of service learning in which students match needs or "problems" of community partners with knowledge and skills developed in specific classes.
"The work students do differs from volunteer-based tasks," notes Bandy. "Instead, they do interdisciplinary problem-solving with community representatives, which usually entails research into important issues for the community organization."
In the spring of 2005, for example, a group of students from his course, "Class, Labor, and Power," worked with the Tedford Shelter in Brunswick to conduct a public opinion survey among local residents about their views of the homeless, so that the shelter would have information with which to advocate for greater public support. In a second phase of the project, students will interview former guests of the shelter to determine how the shelter benefited them and how it did not. (Related story: Community Action Fellows Connect Campus and Community)
"This kind of learning provides students with a real-world context with which they can understand material they encounter in the course," Bandy says. "I have found that it allows students to engage more experientially, critically, and passionately with pressing issues in the public sphere - thus granting them many of the skills necessary for civic leadership. In some cases, service learning has been instrumental in shaping their career choices."
Michelle Vazquez Jacobus at the University of Southern Maine's Lewiston-Auburn College, and Mike Kimball from the University of Maine at Machias, also received the 2006 Harward Award. Maine Senate President Beth Edmonds made the presentations at a March 9, 2006, ceremony held in the Atrium of the State Library, Archives and Museum in Augusta.