Georgia Tech Announces Institutionalization Plan for Serve-Learn-Sustain

Photo Credit Ben Gray, AJC. A student wearing a "Serve-Learn-Sustain" tee shirt walks along a campus walkway with a Georgia Tech faculty member.

Photo Credit Ben Gray, AJC.

The Vice President for Interdisciplinary Research (VPIR) and the Office of Undergraduate Education (OUE) are excited to announce an institutionalization plan for Serve-Learn-Sustain (SLS) that will advance two of Georgia Tech’s Institute Strategic Plan (ISP) initiatives - Sustainability Next and Transformative Teaching and Learning (TTL) - and strengthen our service learning, community engagement, and sustainability ecosystems at Georgia Tech. Established as Georgia Tech’s last Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), SLS launched in 2016 as a unit in OUE and concluded its official QEP work in 2021. Its work on the QEP earned Georgia Tech a commendation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and established a strong foundation to build on moving forward.

Effective July 1, 2023, the current SLS team will establish a new center, the Center for Sustainable Communities Research and Education (CSCRE), under the VPIR. The Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems (BBISS), which is serving as a hub for coordinating Georgia Tech’s Sustainability Next Strategic Plan initiative, will serve as the administrative home for the new center.

CSCRE will collaborate with the sustainability cluster of the Interdisciplinary Research Institutes (IRIs), including BBISS, the Strategic Energy Institute (SEI), and the Renewable Bioproducts Institute (RBI), as well as Infrastructure and Sustainability, another key Sustainability Next hub, to enhance Georgia Tech’s competitiveness in applying for grants that require meaningful community partnerships as a key component of their research and education plans. It will also continue to support sustainable communities education, in close collaboration with the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), OUE, and Education and Learning, to assure the continuity of SLS’s signature programs.

Established as Georgia Tech’s last QEP, Serve-Learn-Sustain launched in 2016 as a unit in OUE and concluded its official QEP work in 2021. Georgia Tech earned a commendation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in 2021 for the “exceptional execution” of the 2016 QEP, citing, among other things, that the program “inspired a closer dialogue among faculty regarding research and instructional practices, and thus serves as a model of how a QEP can transform an academic culture.”

To continue advancing and scaling undergraduate service learning and community engagement as a high-impact practice, OUE will establish a new service learning team, as a priority that supports the Transformative Teaching and Learning ISP initiative. Institutionalizing the service-learning functions of SLS within OUE and aligning it with other high impact practices - such as undergraduate research, student innovation programs, first-year seminars, co-op and internships, and learning communities - will position these programs to work collectively in support of the development of Georgia Tech’s next QEP, which will begin in 2025.

Thank you to the SLS staff and to everyone who has collaborated with and supported the work that SLS has spearheaded to make Georgia Tech a better place for our students, our faculty and staff, and our surrounding communities. We look forward to continuing to advance this work, together.

News Contact

Brent Verrill, Research Communications Program Manager, BBISS