ATLANTA — After completing a multidisciplinary, experiential program that combines academic rigor with an emphasis on social responsibility, seven Georgia State University undergraduate students now hold a Certificate in Collective Social Action.
The students are Ashley Banks (B.S.W.), Eryka Warren (B.S. in Psychology), Jordan Madden (B.S. in Public Policy), Megan Shore (B.S.W.), Naomi Garcia-Hector (B.S. in Public Policy), Nick Palmiotto (B.I.S. in Social Entrepreneurship) and Rhea Wunsch (B.S. in Public Policy). They were among the first cohort of the university’s Social Action Alliance (SAA), an initiative supported and funded by the Volcker Alliance as part of its Next Generation Service Corps, a program designed to attract a diverse pool of talented young people into public service and government careers.
The certificate teaches students how to apply effective, human-centered tools and methods to address complex social problems. It aims to serve students of all majors and pathways well into the future.
“Our curriculum for the certificate is embedded with and supported by unique transformational experiences that help build emotional intelligence, social capital and overall empathy for communities and causes that need attention,” said Georgia State alumna and original SAA Program Director Tammie Green (M.P.A. ’20). “These skills are assets to self-development, collaboration and building strong community partnerships.”
Green worked with Cynthia Searcy, former associate dean for academic innovation and strategy, and lead instructional designer and project manager Mya Eveland, both from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (AYSPS), to develop the certificate and the first of its three course offerings. Jan Ivery, interim associate dean for academic affairs at AYSPS, and the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute’s Jen Bailey, now the associate dean for undergraduate programs at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business, worked with Eveland to create the additional courses designed for the program. They did so with the support of former AYSPS Dean Sally Wallace; Amanda Puché, senior director of development for AYSPS; and Otto Burianek, associate dean for external affairs at Georgia State’s Perimeter College.
Green and SAA adviser and advocate Steve Grand, a professor of practice in AYSPS, have been instrumental in bringing local and national attention to the program at Georgia State, and support from organizations like MARTA and Junior Achievement of Georgia.
In mid-April, the university hosted a Volcker Alliance convening of leaders from 15 universities in the Next Generation Service Corps’ national network. The three-day Technical Assistance Retreat opened with a rallying call from Atlanta business and civic leader Sam Williams to support internships and experiential learning, and brought together program leaders in various planning stages to engage, exchange lessons learned and share innovative approaches to implementing NextGen Service programs.
Green recently joined the Volcker Alliance as director of the Next Generation Service Initiative. In this new role, she co-leads its national effort in serving all college members of the initiative, including Georgia State.
Ivery now heads the Social Action Alliance certificate program, which has embraced and absorbed the activities of the SAA, and a graduate assistant will help coordinate the activities required by the program. The university’s second cohort of students will complete their certificates in spring 2024.
“As the SAA transitions from a cohort-based model to a curricular focus, this certificate is an opportunity for students throughout GSU to learn the skills and techniques that can prepare them to be change agents in their communities,” Ivery said. “I encourage all students who have an interest or any questions about the Social Action Alliance certificate program to contact us online.”
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