Sophomores-Serve (Soph-Serve) is a two-semester program that provides Honors College sophomores with hands-on learning and practical skills for engaging with the public.
Soph-Serve uses the food environment as a springboard to explore links between science and public policy. As part of the program, you will investigate questions such as:
How does where we live influence what we eat?
What determines the availability of healthful foods in our communities?
What options do we have as engaged scholars to facilitate changes in a local community and beyond?
In your first semester, you will take the Soph-Serve General Education course as well as participate in community service. In your second semester, you will take the Soph-Serve seminar.
You will complete 30 hours of community service in the fall semester of your sophomore year.
You will work individually or in small groups to explore connections between service, research, and public policy. The service sites and service projects provide experiences that have a connection to the food environment, such as housing, transportation, food marketing or farming practices. Current service sites include Amherst Survival Center, Amherst Senior Center, and Not Bread Alone.
Soph-Serve courses are led by Lisa M. Troy, assistant professor in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences and Commonwealth Honors College professor in nutrition, who draws upon her experience in the U.S. Senate and with public health programs. You will enroll in the following course sequence:
Science in Public Policy: A Focus on Food Environment (4 credits) *
The purpose of this course is to better understand the links between science and public policy. Using social justice topics (e.g., food security, the built environment, health care access) as a stepping stone, students explore the questions: How does where we live influence our health? What determines the availability of healthful foods or safe places to live in our communities? What options do we have as engaged scholars to facilitate changes in a local community and beyond? How does our social identity influence the solutions we develop to address injustice? Students work individually and in small groups to explore connections between service, research, and public policy. The course prepares and places students with a community partner. Each student participates in a weekly service placement with a community-based organization that works to improve the quality of life for its constituents. Preparing for and learning from these experiences is a major component of the course. Student experiences in service placements are brought into conversation with readings and other course materials as a source of their learning. The service sites and service projects provide experiences that have a connection to the social justice topic. Students apply observations from their service-learning to discuss the process of public policy creation, how science informs public policy, and why research findings often don’t translate to policy decisions
* This Honors General Education course fulfills the Social and Behavioral World and U.S. Diversity General Education requirements.
Honors 391AHH Sophomores-Serve Seminar (2 credits)
This course is the second of two courses in the Sophomores-Serve program and investigates the larger contexts and interconnectedness of individual service placements. A major component of this course is learning to present service-learning experiences and research findings to multiple audiences such as peers, community organizations, and policy-makers to effect change. Written and oral communication is strengthened through the development of infographics, policy briefs, or white papers. Students reflect upon the service-learning experience, summarize lessons learned to share with the incoming group of Sophomores-Serve students, and consider building upon the service placement to become an Honors Thesis.
Soph-Serve is offered to current first-year Honors College students of any major and is a great match for students interested in public policy, science, and issues related to the food environment.
Applications for the academic 2020/21 are closed.
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