January 4, 2008

On Friday, December 7, 2007, LSU presented the Chancellor’s Service-Learning & Civic Engagement Showcase exhibiting the University’s many proponents of community service. Civic engagement consists of individual and collective actions for the purpose of identifying and addressing issues of public concern. It exists in many forms, including individual volunteering, organizational involvement, and electoral participation. Similarly, service-learning is an educational experience in which students take part in an organized service activity helping to meet community needs. Students also reflect on the activity so as to better understand the course content and feel a more complete sense of civic responsibility.

LSU exemplifies these facets of community service through many special projects, one of which is the Baton Rouge Playground Project. A service-learning venture led by Marybeth Lima, the project is a component of the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department at the College of Engineering. Biological engineering students meet with local public school students to plan playgrounds for their schools. The LSU students also play a direct part in the follow-up efforts to actually build the playgrounds. The overall goal of the Baton Rouge Playground Project is to design and build a safe and fun playground for every public school in East Baton Rouge Parish. The playgrounds will all be handicapped-accessible and incorporative of the children’s own creativity.

Dr. Lima was specifically acknowledged in front of the audience by Provost Astrid Merget in recognition for her two top national awards: the 2005 Ernest Lynton Award for Faculty Professional Service and Outreach; and the 2007 Thomas Ehrlich Award, conferred for building campus commitment to service-learning and civic engagement and fostering reciprocal community partnerships.

The Baton Rouge Playground project is just one of the many important ways in which LSU gives back to the larger community through service and civic engagement. In addition, the CoE collaborated with two other University departments exhibiting in the event. CoE and Basic Sciences work with Girl Scout camps to show engineering items, such as “Scope on a Rope” which displays the use of equipment to magnify objects. Also, the Graphic Design Student Office has helped create visual components for marketing the Engineering Engagement for Student Success (ENG2) program.

Article by Colette Burke for the College of Engineering, 225-578-5706, mlavall@lsu.edu

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