Nationally Known Service Learning Expert Visits UT on Sept. 27

KNOXVILLE — Award-winning scholar and college administrator Ira Harkavy, who has helped pioneer university-community-school partnerships and service learning, will visit the University of Tennessee on Sept. 27.

Ira Harkavy
Ira Harkavy
An associate vice president at the University of Pennsylvania, Harkavy is founding director of the university’s Center for Community Partnerships. He has written and lectured widely on university-community partnerships and strategies for integrating the university missions of teaching, research and service.

The centerpiece of Harkavy’s visit to UT will be the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences’ annual Goodrich Lecture at 4 p.m. in the University Center auditorium. Harkavy will speak on “University-School-Community Partnerships: Strategies for Realizing the Mission of Higher Education and the Promise of American Democracy.” The event is free and open to the public.

He also will participate in several other activities on Sept. 27:

• 9:15 a.m. — A meeting with all interested faculty members in University Center Room 224.
• 10:15 a.m. — A meeting with all interested undergraduate and graduate students in University Center Room 224.
• 11:30 a.m. — A Baker Center luncheon at Calhoun’s on the River. Harkavy will speak on “Developing Mutually Beneficial University-Community Partnerships: What’s to be done?” Cost is $15 and reservations are required.
• 3 p.m. — A reception in the Executive Dining Room of the University Center. The reception is free and open to the public, but reservations are required.

As a prelude to these events, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 25, UT officials and others will present an overview of UT’s full-service schools program, a 10-year-old community partnership between UT and several Knox County schools. (See accompanying media advisory.)

Robert Kronick, a UT professor of education psychology and counseling, coordinates the full-service schools program. He is recognized both in academic and political circles as an expert on full-service schools and an advocate for at-risk children.

UT’s program involves three elementary schools and a preschool, all with many students from low-income and highly transient families. UT students from the Chancellor’s Honors Program, political science, engineering and other disciplines earn class credit for their efforts.

“We tutor, do behavior management things and run an after-school program,” Kronick said. He and his students also have built medical clinics in schools and installed washers and dryers to clean students’ clothing and help improve hygiene.

The Sept. 25 event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided for those who RSVP to the Baker Center by Sept. 18.

“When you hear Ira Harkavy’s message, you’ll understand that the work we’re doing here in Knoxville is not in isolation. Our efforts mirror the work that’s being done in much larger cities,” Kronick said. “His work — like ours — illustrates how the university can extend its work from the classroom into the real world and, by doing so, how it can become a life-changing force in the community.”

Harkavy teaches in his university’s departments of history, urban studies, Africana studies, and city and regional planning. He has helped develop service learning courses — academic classes that involve students working in the community — as well as research projects that get faculty and students working in the community.

“Dr. Harkavy is well-known for his expertise in matching community needs with resources offered by universities,” Baker Center Executive Director Alan Lowe said. “He has spearheaded countless service-learning courses in Philadelphia that have helped foster positive relations between the University of Pennsylvania and the surrounding Philadelphia community.”

Harkavy describes one such project: “Penn students conducted research on obesity trends in the African American community and also on why healthy, high-quality foods were not available in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods. Middle school students started a produce stand in their school so they learned about what it takes to run a business. And we conducted assessment tests to see what kind of impact these behavioral changes were having, as well as looking at the relative performance of schools that were involved.”

Harkavy maintains that providing service to society, which used to be a primary mission of land-grant and research institutions, has fallen by the wayside.

“Research universities are not service organizations but they should be involved in helping to solve the most significant problems of our times such as poverty, racism and poor schooling. They can do this best, in my judgment, through deep democratic engagement with their local communities,” he said.

Executive editor of the Universities and Community Schools journal, Harkavy has served as consultant to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help create its Office of University Partnerships and is a Senior Fellow of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.

Harkavy has a doctorate, a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree, all in history, from the University of Pennsylvania.

To make reservations for the Sept. 25 lunch, as well as the Sept. 27 luncheon and reception, call the Baker Center at 974-0931.

Contacts:

Nissa Dahlin-Brown, (865) 974-0931, nissa@utk.edu
Robert Kronick, (865) 974-8799, rkronick@tennessee.edu
Amy Blakely, (865) 974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu