Marnie Jones, PhD
Associate Dean, Arts & Sciences
Having learned about community-based learning in 1993, Dr. Marnie Jones took responsibility for implementing it into the Honors curriculum at UNF. She has developed several CBTL courses along the way including The Church in the World, Introduction to Literature, and Community Forum. The courses require students to serve in schools and for non-profits like Lutheran Social Services and the City Rescue Mission. The Community Forum course was so impactful that Dr. Gregg Gross, Director of the Jaguars Foundation, created the Nike-Jaguars Foundation with $500,000 in scholarships to at risk students.
Her experience with CBTL has taught her that students will take risks and deepen their learning if a faculty member models this behavior. She has also learned that CBTL courses have to be carefully constructed for students to be able to apply their academic knowledge to real world problems in community settings and that you have to structure opportunities for reflection for transformation to occur. She has used this knowledge to help lead faculty to develop Venture Studies, a 2010 pilot designed to support UNF's strategic goal to "support students' intellectual curiosity, academic achievement and personal growth." The Venture Studies Program consists of three parts: a first-year seminar, subsequent Venture Studies general education course offerings, and a Threshold Project centered around community-based learning.
As a Community Scholar, Dr. Jones is developing a new general education course, "Jax Lab", for Venture Studies (VS) which will be a major feature of the VS program. The courses is designed to provide freshman in different academic fields an opportunity to look at some of Jacksonville’s problems through different lenses, examining how different disciplinary perspectives inform our understanding of community issues. 180 students will gather one day a week to hear a presentation from a community member about a community issue. Six faculty members will each have 30 of those students enrolled in their course (psychology, sociology, political science, anthropology, or history) and devote the other two class periods that week to exploring that challenge from that disciplinary lens.
This approach not only allows faculty to meet course goals, it also allows them to focus on general education outcomes that might not otherwise be emphasized in large lecture courses like thinking critically, solving problems, knowing the world, respecting others and expressing yourself.
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