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UC San Diego Names Inaugural Changemaker Faculty Fellows

Program encourages community engagement in the classroom

Eight UC San Diego faculty members have been named inaugural 2019-2020 Changemaker Faculty Fellows, a program created in partnership between the Teaching + Learning Commons and the Center for Student Involvement, with the support of the Changemaker Steering Committee. This yearlong faculty development program provides an opportunity for selected faculty members to integrate community engaged service-learning (CESL) into their teaching, research and public service, while being recognized as campus leaders in CESL pedagogy.

UC San Diego has been designated as a Changemaker campus by Ashoka for its role as a leader in social innovation and changemaking education. Ashoka Changemaker schools enable all students to become changemakers—young people who have the skills and confidence to change the world for the good of all.

Fellows selected for the 2019-2020 class received a $10,000 faculty development award. The applicant review committee looked for submissions that featured a strong rationale, a significant contribution to our campus and potential impact on student engagement and learning. Applicants also had to describe their community partners as co-educators, and if it had the potential for significant community/social impact.

The 2019-2020 inaugural cohort of UC San Diego Changemaker Faculty Fellows includes:

Patty Ahn

Patty Ahn, Communication

  • Community Partners: Barrio Logan College Institute; East African Cultural and Community Center; the Filipino National Historical Society; and select Native American activists and scholars from the Critical Mission Studies Project.
  • Project Description: Ahn proposes to use her media activism course (COMM 101T) to pilot a CESL media production course on community-based storytelling in San Diego. The class would be integrated with a large-scale digital storytelling project co-developed with faculty from History, Ethnic Studies and Communication digital librarians, and five local organizations.
  • Impact: “Together, we are working to build a web-based map and interactive audiovisual database that captures and amplifies the stories of communities who have been displaced and dispossessed by settler colonialism, militarism and border security in the greater San Diego region, and yet have forged communities of belonging through collective organizing and resistant practices,” said Ahn.
Fonna Forman

Fonna Forman, Political Science/Center on Global Justice

  • Community Partners: The UC San Diego EarthLab Community Station in Encanto (a partnership with Groundwork San Diego); The UC San Diego Casa Community Station in San Ysidro (a parternship with Casa Familiar); The UC San Diego Divina Community Station in the Los Laureles Canyon, Tijuana (a partnership with Los Colonos de la Divina Providencia)
  • Project Description: The Community Stations are field-based hubs in underserved neighborhoods on both sides of the San Diego-Tijuana border, where experiential learning, research and teaching are conducted collaboratively with community-based nonprofits, advancing a new model of rooted community-university partnership and reciprocal knowledge production. The UC San Diego Community Stations are co-led by Forman and Visual Arts Professor Teddy Cruz. Forman hopes to develop one or two pilot CESL internship programs within the UC San Diego Community Stations to broaden their accessibility to programs across the campus.
  • Impact: “Our vision for the future is that the UC San Diego Community Stations open two-way flows between the campus and communities across our border region and become a hive of undergraduate experiential learning and research activity,” said Forman. “We see the UC San Diego Community Stations as a public good, especially important as the campus seeks to become a Hispanic Serving Institution, committed to experiential learning.”
Abigail Andrews

Abigail Andrews, Sociology

  • Community Partners: Casa del Migrante Tijuana; Desayunador Padre Chava; Madre Assunta; Salvation Army Women’s Shelter; and YMCA Youth Shelter
  • Project Description: Andrews’ project redesigns the Mexican Migration Field Research Program (MMFRP) to be more sustainable, include more concrete learning outcomes and produce more immediate publicly-accessible results for our border region as well as policymakers and migrant advocates more broadly. MMFRP is a year-long academic program in which students receive training in methods and migration literature, conduct on-the-ground field research with migrants in the San Diego-Tijuana region and then analyze and write up their results.
  • Impact: “Studying these issues in migrant shelters puts students straight in the middle of these ongoing issues, enabling them to better understand and empathize with migrants’ plights,” said Andrews. “Over 90% of the students in the MMFRP also come from underrepresented groups, most of them immigrants of children or immigrants themselves. Through the program, they often connect more deeply to the kinds of issue faced by their own parents and members of their own communities.”
Carolyn Kurle

Carolyn Kurle, Biological Sciences, Ecology, Behavior and Evolution Section 

  • Community Partners: Dr. Erla Björk Örnólfsdóttir at Hólar University College in northern Iceland and Emily Loui, Program Director of the Alternative Break Program through the Center for Student Involvement at UC San Diego
  • Project Description: As the instructor, co-creator and co-leader of a UC San Diego Alternative Breaks trip to Iceland, Kurle led a delegation of students who participated in a service-learning trip to Iceland in August 2019, designed to promote awareness of global climate change and other conservation biology topics. Students stayed at Hólar University in Iceland to engage in meaningful research, exploring the alpine meadows, a glacier, beaches and more. Kurle’s goal with the Changemaker program is to best build on and expand what she learned with her pilot trip to Iceland for future trips.
  • Impact: “Our project addresses the gaps in science communication to the lay audience, particularly in areas of climate change. The lay audience benefits more when they can learn from those who are both associated with their own community and who have developed strong connections to nature,” said Kurle. “Our vision is to create Earth Connection experiences for all types of undergraduates via travel to and immersion in wild places. Then, the students can take that inspiration and joy back to their communities and become effective environmental and conservation science ambassadors.”
UC San Diego Department of urban Studies Faculty

Keith Pezzoli, Leslie Lewis and Mirle Rabinowitz-Bussell; Department of Urban Studies and Planning

  • Community Partners: Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center; Casa de Mañana; Bayside Community Center; San Diego County Office of Aging and Independent Services; LGBT Community Center; Jewish Family Service of San Diego; Father Joe’s Village; Urban Angels; and Family Health Centers of San Diego
  • Project Description: Pezzoli, Lewis and Rabinowitz-Bussell propose two projects: one, an evaluation of an existing and highly successful two-quarter practicum course series (Life Course Scholars Program), and two, the development of a new two-quarter, experiential learning course series called Urban Challenges: Homelessness in San Diego. Both programs combine robust pedagogy, rich faculty-student mentoring and interaction and deep levels of engagement with community partners.
  • Impact: “Our aim is to take students out into the San Diego community to meet, speak with and conduct research among people who are unhoused,” they said. “With greater recognition of the pedagogical and practical benefits of civically-engaged and service-oriented learning, we hope that it becomes the norm that all students have the opportunity to engage with, and learn from, diverse sources, to the benefit of us all.”
Amy Binder

Amy Binder, Sociology

  • Community Partners: CREATE Partnership Schools and other San Diego area K-12 schools
  • Project Description: As a fellow, Binder hopes to improve an existing course, Sociology 110: Qualitative Research in Educational Settings, where students in this class do primary research in San Diego Unified and neighboring school districts. Most of the schools in which her undergraduates have placements are underserved schools and UC San Diego students come to understand, at a deep level, the cultural and structural inequalities that many teachers and K-12 students face.
  • Impact: “My students learn to question their initial assumptions about the meaning of race, gender and class, as they look beneath the surface of a multitude of school interactions using ethnographic methods. They also come away with a deep appreciation for how they’re connected to the San Diego community,” said Binder. “Experiential learning makes academics come alive, and at the same time it is also vitally important that students contribute to local institutions and the people in them.”

At UC San Diego, we are changemakers. Our students, faculty and staff are driving change that makes a real difference in the world—from volunteering to help the homeless, to sparking research discoveries that cure disease. That’s why Ashoka, the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs, designated UC San Diego as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus. Only 45 universities around the world have received this prestigious designation, and UC San Diego is the only University of California campus to be recognized. Learn more at the changemaker website.