Engaging Our Community

Dean Lee

Painting murals on the walls of an elementary school library. Teaching members of the public how write with a quill. Making ice cream with liquid nitrogen. Gazing at the night sky and contemplating the vastness of the universe. These are just a sampling of activities students and faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences facilitate in our community – from elementary school students to the broad public.

Part of our vision as a college within a land-grant institution is providing our students with opportunities to apply what they learn by working with faculty engaged in community outreach locally and around the world. In this edition of Higher Ground, we highlight outreach as a mission and feature activities our students, faculty, and staff engage in throughout the year.

One goal of community engagement is to educate the public and encourage young people to seek a college education in order to have more robust options for their future. PiPES, an outreach program in the Department of Psychology, provides opportunities for high school students in Appalachia to explore career options in science, technology, engineering, math, and medical sciences. UT students and faculty who facilitate the program also help the high school students overcome potential barriers to higher education. Through another program in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UT students and faculty work with Native American high school students to develop an interest in science and help them transition into college.

We also emphasize the impact of student engagement and strive to prepare our graduates as engaged, global leaders in a democratic society. Students in the Model UN program in the Department of Political Science travel across the country to discuss and debate international topics with students from other universities. At the local level, we host the annual Tennessee Ethics Bowl where teams of high school students engage in respectful dialogue about an array of controversial and complex issues. As the academic foundation of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the College of Arts and Sciences contributes to all aspects of the university’s mission of teaching, research, and service. Our faculty, students, and staff embrace the Volunteer spirit through engagement and outreach to our local community, state, nation, and the world. By moving our scholarship from the classrooms to community spaces, we embody the purpose of a land-grant institution by preparing our students to be productive and engaged citizens in our state and across the globe.

-Theresa M. Lee
Dean, College of Arts & Sciences