“Here in St. Petersburg, we experienced first-hand the difference and inequality between different schools in our children’s schools,” says Muetzel. “That’s why I started working with Shirley Proctor Puller Foundationwhose goal is to advance knowledge in reading, math and science, helping to close the achievement gap for children in St. Petersburg.
From now on, Muetzel will have the necessary resources and institutional support to extend its work to the Foundation. He was one of six faculty selected by the Eckerd College St. Pete Center for Civic Engagement and Social Impact as 2023-2024 faculty members. The new cohort will launch or expand four projects that will create meaningful partnerships and provide students with opportunities for curricular, research-based, and/or reflective services that connect campus and community.
Muetzel’s project, Finding the Right Angle: Community Math Project for Underserved Students, will provide geometry activities and year-round math/homework help at the Shirley Proctor Puller Foundation using student volunteers from ‘Eckerd College and geometric manipulatives. Eventually, he will develop a reflective service-learning component in his calculus courses, so his students can earn community service hours toward their Foundation volunteer degree.
The 2023-2024 ECSPC Faculty Scholars also include:
- Assistant Professor of Chemistry Jalisa Ferguson, Ph.D., and Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics Michael Goyette, Ph.D., who will build a long-term community service project or internship to accompany their new team-taught course , Science Ethics for the Common Good, for lower-grade STEM students to broaden their education to consider the real world implications of invention and research;
- Professor of Biology and Marine Science Shannon Gowans, Ph.D., and Associate Professor of Marine Science Amy Siuda, Ph.D., who plan to relaunch and expand the Used Once, Lasts Forever Art Show, an event community art where creatives turn waste into questionable artworks that highlight the importance of reducing single-use plastics – as the duo stage the show, they will also formulate a zero waste event guide that any entity could use to ensure that their events have a low impact on the environment; and
- Assistant Professor of Psychology Jessica Leffers, Ph.D., who plans to engage K-12 students in local programs in an interventional study that will help them realize that stereotypes about race, gender and class are not genetically determined. With the help of Eckerd student researchers, Leffers plans to use the faculty grant to fund the study design and approval process, data collection and analysis, and development of a reproducible educational program for future use.
Goyette says teaching the Science Ethics for the Common Good course with Ferguson seemed like a fantastic new opportunity to put his goals into practice in a way that could be very meaningful and impactful for Eckerd students and local communities. .
“As a humanist whose teaching and research often focus on the history of medicine and the history of science, I am always eager to find opportunities to demonstrate how the study of the humanities and sciences can complete and talk to each other,” Goyette explains. “Similarly, as a professor of classics and ancient studies, I’m constantly looking for ways to use perspectives from the past to illuminate today’s issues and imagine better ways forward.”
Gowans and Siuda are thrilled to partner with the St. Pete Center to share the zero waste guide both on campus and throughout the community.
“As marine scientists, we have long been aware of the problems caused by marine plastic pollution. However, the solution to this problem requires humans to change their behavior on earth to reduce their plastic consumption,” says Gowans. “We launched the Reduce Single-Use project at Eckerd in 2018and the St. Pete Center Fellowship is a natural fit for our project.
Leffers, who joined the Eckerd faculty in 2021, says she is surprised to learn that few of the College’s students come from St. Petersburg and sees her project as an opportunity to recruit and educate.