Service-Learning in the News


Smart Communities Initiative Moving Ahead with Projects

Published on October 20, 2014 in the Cleveland Daily Banner

by OUR CITY: Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland

The University of Tennessee students involved with the Smart Communities Initiative in our city have started working on their projects now.

We extend a special welcome to them and to the faculty members as they get involved with many different aspects of our community.

For some, the first steps in their project included the surveying for various sections of Inman Street. Their work results will be used in numerous projects. Read more >


Smart Communities Begins Gathering Data on Cleveland

Published October 12, 2014 in the Cleveland Daily Banner

by DELANEY WALKER Banner Staff Writer

A recent discussion between University of Tennessee and Lee University students explored the local students’ opinions on the city they temporarily call home.

Graphic design majors Allen Minecci, Jordan Dronebarger and Brayan Zavala directed a series of questions at students in one of Lee professor Arlie Tagayuna’s sociology classes.

Tagayuna explained the interview is part of the Smart Communities Initiative between UTK and Cleveland.

Approximately 16 projects will be the focus of the initiative. The UTK students primarily focused on gathering information for the project focused on rebranding the city. Read more >


Cleveland a Center for Hands on Learning as UT’s First SCI Partner

Published October 6, 2014 in the Tennessee Town & City


Cleveland, Tenn., will likely hold a special place in the hearts and memories of a number of University of Tennessee Knoxville students, as they city transforms into a place of hands-on learning through UTK’s Smarter Communities Initiative (SCI). Each year, the SCI program pairs classes students normally would take, with needed projects within a selected community.

The program submitted a Request for Proposals (RFP) last year, as the faculty planning team helped recruit and select an inaugural partner. As the chosen city, Cleveland committed $100,000 as an investment to the program, with most projects budgeted around $3,000 per semester. Read more >


Smart Communities Partnering with Lee

Published October 3, 2014 in the Cleveland Daily Banner

by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer

Lee University has joined the University of Tennessee Smart Communities Initiative as a local partner.

Cleveland was selected as the inaugural city for the program UTK started this year as a way to provide students with hands-on experience, and ideas for potential city projects.

Arlie Tagayuna, Lee assistant professor of sociology, said Lee would be focusing on projects dealing with building community unity, as well as assisting the students with developing a marketing brand for the city.

“We are here as a community resource. There are people here who care a lot about the community. It’s just we have never been tapped as actively previously. I’m so glad that I’m a part of this project,” Tagayuna said. Read more >


Smart Communities Initiative Links UT, Cleveland

Published September 24, 2014 in Priorities, a biannual newsletter from Provost Susan Martin

This summer, graduate students in Lisa Yamagata-Lynch’s Professional Ethics in Instructional Technology course began laying the groundwork for a survey that officials in Cleveland, Tennessee, will use to solicit citizen input about city services and facilities.

It was the first of seventeen courses that will allow 425 of our students to get some real-world experience as they work with Cleveland on a variety of projects as part of our Smart Communities Initiative (SCI).

SCI partners faculty and students with cities, counties, special districts, and other municipal groups to engage in real-world problem solving aimed at improving the region’s economy, environmental sustainability, and social integrity. It is overseen by our Office of Service-Learning, led by Kelly Ellenburg. Read more >


Smart Communities Initiative Kicks Off in Cleveland, Tenn.

Published Saturday, September 13th, 2014 in the Chattanooga Times Free Press

by Paul Leach

CLEVELAND, Tenn.—The Smart Communities Initiative, a University of Tennessee-Knoxville student service learning program, has officially kicked off and its first partner city is Cleveland.

The program will give students hands-on experience as they tackle 19 civic projects, including stormwater mapping and analysis, streetscape improvements, greenway extensions and redevelopment of old industrial sites.

Faculty, students, city staff and community stakeholders praised the initiative during its opening event at the Museum Center at Five Points in downtown Cleveland.

“This is a critical step for us as we look forward to helping our students learn by doing,” said Dr. Susan Martin, UT provost. Read more >


UT, Cleveland kick off Smart Communities Initiative

Posted on September 12, 2014, City of Cleveland Civic Alerts


Hundreds of University of Tennessee students will be taking part in a variety of Cleveland projects this academic year.

The city of Cleveland was chosen earlier this year as the first partner city for UT’s service learning program, the Smart Communities Initiative.

The list of projects was unveiled Wednesday evening when university students and officials met with city of Cleveland staff members and people from partnering organizations such as Main Street Cleveland, Impact Cleveland, Lee University, Tennessee Department of Transportation, Chamber of Commerce and many others. Read more >


Cleveland, UTK kick off Smart Communities

Published September 11, 2014 in the Cleveland Daily Banner

by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer

Cleveland and the University of Tennessee celebrated the kickoff of the Smart Communities Initiative on Wednesday.

The program pairs needed projects with course requirements at UTK to give students hands-on experience. The Cleveland City Council has committed up to $100,000 to the program.

Cleveland is the first city selected to participate. “This is a very, very exciting program for us,” said Susan Martin, provost. “It has been a special pleasure to have the opportunity to meet colleagues from the city of Cleveland, from Lee University and other partners and to sense the enthusiasm in this room. … We are looking forward to a long and successful partnership.” Read more >


University of Tennessee Students Return to Transforming Campus

Published August 23, 2014 in The Memphis Daily News

Service Learning, Smart Cities
New academic programs at UT-K this year include a pilot project on “S” designation courses, those with a service-learning component, and a Smart Cities initiative in which 10 courses will involve working with the nearby Cleveland.

Last spring, nine faculty members representing different colleges at UT participated in the service project.

The next step is adding an “S” to course numbers to allow student to spot them easily in the course catalog.

“Service-learning aids in critical thinking, complex problem solving, appreciation for diversity, connection of theory to practice, ability to work on a team, and a more nuanced understanding of course content,” says Kelly Ellenburg, campus service-learning coordinator. Read more >


Smart Cities Initiative Starts In Cleveland

Published May 7, 2014 in The Chattanoogan

Cleveland city staff and local experts in the fields of economic development, the arts and social sciences met earlier this week with professors from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville about a new initiative designed to benefit both the city and the university.

It was the first meeting since the March announcement that Cleveland was selected as the pilot city for the Smart Communities Initiative that begins in the fall.

SCI was founded upon the idea that universities and communities should work together to improve the health and vitality of their areas. Read more >


UT Launches Smart Communities Initiative; Cleveland, Tenn., is First City Partner

Published April 8, 2014 in UT Archinect

KNOXVILLE—The city of Cleveland, Tenn., has been chosen as the first partner city for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s new service-learning program, the Smart Communities Initiative. The partnership begins this fall.

“Through the Smart Communities Initiative, we’re going to partner faculty and students with cities, counties, special districts and other municipal groups to engage in real-world problem solving aimed at improving the region’s economy, environmental sustainability and social integrity,” said Kelly Ellenburg, campus coordinator for service-learning within the Provost’s Office. Read more >


Provost’s Office Working on “S” Designation for Service-Learning Courses

Published May 5, 2014 in the TN Today

The Provost’s Service-Learning Office is working on a plan to give an “S” designation to approved courses with a service-learning component.

The application process was piloted this spring by nine faculty members, each representing a different college.

The university already has many courses that employ service-learning, and the service-learning office is developing mechanisms to enhance the support and recognition of faculty who do this work. The next step will be designating courses with appropriate content and outcomes as service-learning courses. This will entail adding an S to the course numbers so students can easily spot them in the course catalog, and they’ll appear similarly on transcripts so employers can take note. Read more>


Smart Communities Planning Underway

Published May 5, 2014 in the Cleveland Daily Banner

By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG  Banner Staff Writer

A new initiative to combine the expertise of Cleveland city officials and students at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville got underway with a meeting Monday.

Cleveland was chosen to take part in the inaugural year of a new program called the Smart Communities Initiative that will allow students to work with city officials and create proposals on ways to address city planning concerns.

Monday’s meeting was a time for Cleveland officials and university representatives to get together and discuss the projects so the university can choose which projects its students could most likely accomplish.

When applying to be part of the new program, the city proposed 19 different projects for the university’s consideration. Those who attended the Monday meeting divided themselves into groups to address different areas of concern and discuss each project, with the goal of helping narrow down the possibilities of what the university students will be able to do. Read more >


UT Launches Smart Communities Initiative with Cleveland Tennessee

Published April 1, 2014 in the TN Today

The city of Cleveland, Tennessee, has been chosen as the first partner city for UT’s new service-learning program, the Smart Communities Initiative. The partnership begins this fall.

“Through the Smart Communities Initiative, we’re going to partner faculty and students with cities, counties, special districts, and other municipal groups to engage in real-world problem solving aimed at improving the region’s economy, environmental sustainability, and social integrity,” said Kelly Ellenburg, campus coordinator for service-learning within the Provost’s Office.

SCI projects could be part of a course or form the basis on an independent study project. Faculty would receive funding to support the projects and needed travel. Read more >


City, UTK pair for planning program

Published March 31, 2014 in the Cleveland Daily Banner

by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer

The city of Cleveland has been chosen to participate in the University of Tennessee’s Smart Communities Initiative Program.

This fall will be the launch of the university’s program to combine cities’ project planning needs with UTK students’ need for hand-on experience.

As a part of the program, Cleveland will receive detailed plans and data for projects that best fit with the classes being offered this semester.

“A continual problem that we have, and I think a lot of communities have unless they are really big and have a lot of staff … is that oftentimes there are opportunities that come for funding but with that funding opportunity comes the expectation that you will have planned and prepared for the projects that you want to fund. When you have staffing limitations … it’s hard to do that kind of stuff because what you wind up spending your time with is the immediate stuff that you have to get built,” planning director Greg Thomas said. Read more >


Corrected: UT adopts hands-on city sustainability course for fall

Published: Wed Jan 15, 2014 | Modified: Thu Jan 23, 2014 04:53 p.m. in the Daily Beacon

By Bradi Musil, Staff Writer

Beginning next fall, UT students will be solving problems in Tennessee while earning credit hours and experience.

The Smart Communities Initiative, modeled after Oregon’s Sustainable City Year Program, will engage students and faculty of UT with Tennessee cities, counties and regions to provide hands-on experience outside the classroom.

“It all started about five years ago, when faculty was sitting around talking about how every term students turn in this great work, and it just sits and never goes anywhere. These great ideas never get implemented or anything,” said Bob Choquette, the program manager of Oregon’s Sustainable City Year Program.

After Oregon presented their program on UT’s campus in the fall, UT adopted a customized version of Oregon’s model. Every year, the university will work with one Tennessee “host” city, or municipal partner to match projects with academic courses. Although instructors will still adhere to course curriculums, the class will primarily focus on the host city’s projects and culminate in a collaborative written report from the students. Read more >


Campus Community Invited to Learn about Oregon’s Sustainable Cities Initiative

Published December 3, 2013 in the TN Today

As UT moves toward establishing a service-learning program called the Smart Communities Initiative, the campus community is invited to learn more about a similar, and very successful, program operating in Oregon.

Representatives from the University of Oregon’s Sustainable Cities Initiative will be on campus Monday, December 9, to discuss their cross-disciplinary Sustainable City Year Program with faculty, staff, students, and members of the public sector.

The Sustainable City Year Program partners teaching faculty with city staff to engage students in service-learning projects focused on sustainability, livability, and improved quality of life in their communities. Read more >

View a web video of this presentation here.


Assistance Offered for Faculty Who Want to Add Service-Learning to Their Courses

Published March 12, 2013 in the TN Today

Interested in adding a service-learning component to your course, but unsure how to do it?

The provost’s office now has resources to help.

Under the auspices of the Office of the Provost, UT Service-Learning has been created to support and increase the level of course-based service-learning across campus. The program’s office is in 217 Greve Hall.  Read more >


Resource Will Help Increase Service-Learning Opportunities

Published October 26, 2012 in the TN Today

Students in Professor Michael Handelsman’s Spanish 494 class put their Spanish language skills to work while they’re learning about the Hispanic population in our community.

The students spend one hour a week in the classroom talking about Hispanic issues in the United States They also spend thirty to forty hours during the semester in the community teaching and learning from native Spanish speakers. Some shadow interpreters at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. Others work with young students at Lonsdale Elementary and with adults at Centro Hispano of East Tennessee.

Service learning, such as this class provides, is hands-on learning at its finest. Read more >