CBL Award Winners Announced

Posted: May 11, 2006

This year's Sally Montgomery Award, celebrating Community-Based Learning students' dedication and achievement, was presented May 8 to Emily Morgan '06, Tracy Zhu '08, Kristine Swann '07, and Aileen Suzara '06. The four were honored for their project, The Right to Breath: Air Quality Monitoring in Holyoke, Massachusetts, done with community partner Nuestras Raices in Holyoke. The students undertook the project in connection with the urban ecology class taught by Giovanna Di Chiro, visiting assistant professor of earth and environment.

Sally Montgomery, former dean of the College and professor of economics, was instrumental in the creation of Community-Based Learning at Mount Holyoke. The award was established in her honor after her retirement in 1996 and is given to the most outstanding CBL project of the year. Projects are judged on the how the students' learning was enhanced through their experience working or researching in a community, and how the community partner or community at-large benefited from the service and knowledge contributed by the students.

Qualifying projects may come from a class, independent study, or thesis work. The prize is awarded to both students and community participants, and winners are listed in the annual commencement program.

This year's selection committee consisted of Montgomery; Harold Garrett-Goodyear, history professor and chair of critical social thought; and Shaili Ghimire '08, 2005 Sally Montgomery Award recipient. Their citation for the award is below:

"The awards committee was impressed by the multifaceted approach of the research team. They responded to Nuestras Raices' expressed desire to understand and address the high rates of asthma in south Holyoke by exploring academic literature, government databases, earlier CBL research, and the documented experiences of other communities. They employed the reciprocal and cooperative "street science" methodology to learn from and with the Holyoke community about its environmental issues. The team's work together met the highest standards of CBL by both serving the community and also advancing the students' understanding of the theory and practice of "environmental justice," a central focus of their course in urban ecology. Later this month they will present to Nuestras Raices and the community a five-chapter manual: The Right to Breath: Air Quality Monitoring in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Thus they will accomplish their goal of providing research on air quality that will be "most useful to Nuestras Raices and Holyoke residents, not only in the short term, but as a launching point for further grassroots community action."

Related Links:

MHC's Community Based Learning Program

Community-Based Learning Launches Video