Sunday, February 19, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Kimberly Saviers, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
The T-shaped skill model notes that the most effective professionals have both deep expertise in one discipline and broad competencies to work with professionals in other disciplines. Because most research-oriented graduate programs are designed to develop deep knowledge in one discipline, many graduate students lack experiences to effectively collaborate between multiple disciplines. In order to proactively develop these skills, we participated in Emerging Leaders in Science and Society, a service learning program for graduate students that is based at AAAS. The program process may be implemented to any societal topic that is relevant to the geographic region and time. The challenge of ensuring safe, sustainable, and affordable drinking water in the United States has come to the forefront of attention both nationally and regionally in the last year. Thus, we conducted a landscape assessment and hosted a forum on drinking water in Greater Lafayette, Indiana. We recruited a partner at the Indiana State Department of Public Health for expertise and contacts relating to regional drinking water issues. The forum enabled 35 local stakeholders to discuss system-level challenges and solutions while networking with others in the community for the purpose of creating a positive change for society. The goals of the program for graduate students included increasing capacities for systems understanding, collaboration, and leadership. For example, our systems understanding increased by interviewing over 40 stakeholders with a different lens on drinking water systems. Graduate student program participants came from a diverse range of disciplines and campuses, and drinking water forum participants came from a diverse range of organizations. Each of us chose clearly defined roles that required coordination among our peers to meet project goals, thus allowing us to practice leadership skills. In conclusion, this service leadership program effectively created synchronized value for both graduate students and community stakeholders.