Hundreds of students on several Washington State University campuses will participate in community service projects as part of their English classes this year.
For his English 101 classes, WSU Pullman Teaching Assistant Professor David Martin wanted the service-learning component to be research focused; however, he did not have a clear idea of what types of projects would work in his curriculum.
“I was able to learn what other faculty in CES (Community Engaged Scholars) were doing and I found that to be very useful,” Martin said. “It got my mind and wheels turning on some possibilities for my classes.”
This semester, his students are working with community partners in the Palouse region to identify local challenges such as food and housing insecurity, abandoned pets, and stream erosion. They will create a problem statement, write a literature review, and pitch ideas for how those challenges can be resolved.
Students in Linda Russo’s English 302 class will work with the Palouse Conservation District to restore areas along the Palouse River. She said CES inspired her to explore what literary studies can look like when students literally get their hands dirty.
Vanessa Cozza and Johanna Phelps, English professors on the Tri-Cities and Vancouver campuses, respectively, said students in their technical and professional writing classes are working with multiple community partners to create promotional materials such as instruction manuals, brochures, logos, and website designs.
One of the greatest benefits of participating in CES, according to Martin, Phelps, Russo, and Cozza, was the opportunity to meet other faculty interested in service-learning. Many have stayed in touch with each other since the program concluded.