How can you be recognized as an Engaged Department on Virginia Tech’s campus?  

Ask the Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Science, which will receive a $5,000 award for continued efforts to expand opportunities for students to participate in community service experiences.

Mike Rosenzweig, advanced instructor and biological science outreach coordinator, will accept the award on behalf of his colleagues in the College of Science. Those colleagues include Brenda Winkle, professor and department head; Dana Hawley, assistant professor; Jill Sible, professor and associate dean for curriculum, instruction and advising; Ignacio Moore, associate professor; Ann Stevens, professor; Lisa Belden, assistant professor; Richard Walker, associate professor and associate department head; and Christie Gray, department fiscal manager.

"This award is a great opportunity for our department to give more opportunities to our students to apply what they’re learning in real life settings and to serve the community," said Rosenzweig.

Some of the department's initiatives and programs include its Biological Sciences Residential Learning Community and bio-sciences outreach programs, SEEDS Blacksburg Nature Center, and the Microbiology Club.

The Engaged Department Grant Award is made to the department or college whose proposal best represents an innovative plan for developing curricular changes to incorporate engagement within their department. Engaged departments is an initiative adapted from the national Campus Compact model. The initiative institutes a scholarship paradigm that is built on collaboration over individualism. Engaged departments are those that demonstrate a collective commitment to teaching and discovery for the common good.

"The importance of the Engaged Department Grant Program rests in its potential to cause institutional change related to curricular student engagement. The grant provides resources that departments can use to collectively evaluate the work they are doing,” says Michele James-Deramo, director of service learning at the Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships. Winners implement engagement opportunities that involve students across their major course of study.  

The winner of the Engaged Department Award in 2010 was the Department of Horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The department submitted a proposal integrating optional service-learning projects throughout its 15 undergraduate courses.

Departments interested in applying for the 2012 Engaged Department Award can contact Michele James-Deramo in the Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships at (540) 231-6947. Applications can be submitted beginning Sept.  1.

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