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Stetson community serves central Florida

Community Based ResearchCommunity leaders, professors, and students identifying social and environmental problems in central Florida have the opportunity to team up with Stetson University’s Community Based Research (CBR) programs to conduct valuable research that can assist in developing social and environmental solutions.

Sociology professor John Schorr, Ph.D., teaches a CBR course which gives students the opportunity to work with faculty members in their majors.  The next CBR course will be offered in the spring of 2014.

Information gathered for faculty and student projects focuses on service-learning projects in which academic information learned inside the classroom is applied to the issues of social and environmental justice under review. Community partners are invited to team up with the students from an academic department that best suits their needs. Community partners come from local organizations covering: community and economic development, education, and environmental awareness, youth empowerment, health/elder care, global issues, ESOL and animal advocacy and cancer advocacy.

In the picture, computer music 2 students from the classes of digital arts professor Nathan Wolek, Ph.D., are teaching sound synthesis and hardware controllers at the Spring Hill Boys & Girls Club.

“I think what we do is we help community partners better understand the problems they have identified,” Schorr said.  “Most community partners we work with don’t have the resources to hire professional consultants, so we fill that gap for them. We try to focus on social justice issues, and our research benefits both the community and the students who have the opportunity to learn how to do applied research.”

CBR program director and professor of political science William (Bill) Ball, Ph.D., encourages faculty and students from all departments to team up with programs relating to their curriculum.

“I try to coordinate other faculty and students; encourage students to take it on,” said Ball. “The main idea is to support our community partners. It is not an easy thing to do. But I help faculty find students to work with.”

During the 2012-2013 school year several projects completed by various student and faculty members displayed the versatility of the program.

For instance, communications majors Keighla Burns and Kristin Erichsen partnered with the Volusia Department of Emergency Management to assess disaster responses for an Edgewater, Fla. mobile home community after a major tornado caused severe damages in December 2012.

Health science major Deonna Graham and sociology major Michael Barnett teamed up with the Florida Department of Health for Volusia County for a study of fluoridated water resources and tooth decay problems for impoverished children in Deltona and DeLand.

Recently, Stetson’s CBR program held their annual awards recognition ceremony. Marcos Crisanto, community organizer for the Farmworkers Association of Florida, was the recipient of the 2013 Community Partner of the Year award.

Farmworkers Association of Florida’s Pierson base also teamed up with Stetson students Alexandria Delgado and Alicja Duda for interviewing Mexican migrant farmworkers concerning their understanding of workers’ rights laws in Florida.

Anyone interested in working with Stetson’s CBR program is encouraged to contact Professor Ball either by email (wball@stetson.edu) or by phone (386) 873-7536.

by Maurie Murray