This Department has an unusually strong commitment to the principle of "learning through serving." Principles learned in the classroom are put to work in real life situations in which students and professors alike are engaged in helping people and organizations become more effective. This philosophy is so deeply embedded in the Department that in 2007 Dr. Bolduc was awarded the "Vermont Service-Learning Teacher of the Year."
Below is a partial list of just some of the "service learning" projects that the Department has conducted in the past several years. You will see that some projects involve applying the statistically quantitative survey methods common in sociology but many also use the qualitative methods more commonly used by the anthropologists.
In 2005, Professor Kusserow accompanied St. Michael’s students and "Lost Boy" of Sudan Atem Deng to Kampala Uganda to meet his parents for the first time since the war in South Sudan started. In Kampala they met and interviewed Atem’s extended family as well as many other Sudanese refugee's about their life histories. They then flew to a Sudanese refugee camp in Arua Uganda and conducted interviews on girls access to education in Imveppi Camp.
The results of these interviews were used by UNHCR in Kampala and served as the basis for the founding of the New Sudan Education Initiative, a non-profit founded by Adrie Kusserow's husband Robert Lair and some local Sudanese Lost Boys.
In May of 2008, Professor Kusserow traveled with former St. Michael's College students to South Sudan for the opening of the New Sudan Education Initiative's first health sciences secondary school for girls.
Professor Kusserow has also done a wide variety of other service learning projects with students, including starting an African radio station program meant for African refugees living in Vermont, tutoring new Americans at JFK elementary school, student led film screenings with discussion by panels of local refugees, student babysitting for Somali Bantu refugee mothers, rock concert fundraisers for child prostitutes in Nepal, and student presentations in local public schools about modern day slavery and child trafficking in Southeast Asia.
Professor Bolduc's service learning projects are more oriented to local issues and often use survey research. For example, in 2006, one class studied the "quality of life" of Vermonters. The Research Methods class worked on a questionnaire and then conducted phone interviews with over 400 Vermonters. This was sponsored by the Vermont Business Roundtable, with the final report available online.
In 2007, a Peace and Justice course studied homelessness by working for the state's largest homeless shelter in conducting an evaluation of how people who lived in the shelters felt about the security, comfort, and programs offered by the various shelters. Using questionnaires and interviews, the student’s work is still being used to improve and modify the various shelters.
In 2008, the Research Methods class did a state wide survey or how people feel about sustainability for the non-profit organization "Vermonters for a Sustainable Population," a non-profit organization.