BAY-SIC labs allow students to solve real-world problems

Greensburg, Pa., senior Liana Denino extracts soil samples from their capsules in a lab space at the BSB. This is the final step in the process of testing soil. Liesje Powers | Multimedia Editor

By Magdalayna Drivas | Reporter

Baylor will offer three lab courses in spring 2018 for students of all majors who wish to develop innovative approaches to some of the world’s most complex challenges.

The courses are a part of the Baylor Social Innovation Collaborative (BAY-SIC), a program launched this fall designed to bring together faculty, staff and students to address social problems using a transdisciplinary approach.

The spring 2018 courses will address at-risk seniors, food insecurity and child migration. Both undergraduate and graduate students can enroll in the classes and join teams of students and faculty who have already begun research on these issues.

Associate professor Debra King is the director of nutrition services at Meals on Wheels of Waco and teaches the Social Innovation with At-Risk Seniors course. King said her course meets once a week and researches ways to improve the quality of life of Meals on Wheels clients.

“The classes help with meal delivery and during the class we have a variety of guest speakers,” King said. “They are currently working on the details of what one project they could do in the community that could make a difference.”

King said students from a variety of majors including social work, nutrition and business are currently enrolled in her course.

“It’s a fun, diverse group of students and they all have very different backgrounds,” King said. “I hope they’re enjoying the class as much as I’m enjoying teaching it.”

Abilene sophomore Jamie Caldwell-Rhodes is a social work major taking King’s course. She said the course is great preparation for her future career.

“It’s a good way to get into the community and also get credits for classes,” Caldwell-Rhodes said. “I want to work with old people when I graduate, so this is a good way to get practice for what I’ll actually be doing.”

Cara Cliburn Allen, a doctoral student studying student hunger, is assisting Dr. Nathan Alleman, associate professor of higher education, in leading the BAY-SIC course Food, Identity and Society: The Student Experience. Allen said the course will research and develop solutions to hunger on college campuses.

“The class next spring will be about food insecurity generally and about how food and identity are related,” Allen said. “Another part of that course is going to be talking about student hunger. We are going to expand studying food insecurity in college to the region.”

King said the BAY-SIC courses allow students to go beyond campus and have a meaningful impact on the Waco community.

“It’s a good way to see a part of Waco that you don’t usually see,” King said. “A lot of times, we think we need to go on a mission project and leave the country, but some of the things are going on in our backyard.”

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