"Hurricane Katrina: The Bentley Bayou La Batre Service-Learning Project"
Author: Bentley College
Source: Bentley College, Bentley Service-Learning Center, Waltham, Massachusetts
The Hurricane Katrina Service-Learning Project was developed by the Bentley Service-Learning Center in November and December 2005 in response to the devastating impact of the hurricane on the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic in southern Alabama. The project used an integrated, team-based approach to rebuild and improve the business processes of the Clinic. Students acted as project managers and business consultants to create a series of deliverables for the Clinic. The deliverables included a business plan, a web page, a database design, and a disaster response plan. Other deliverables included legal guidance applicable to the design and implementation of the website and database, a list of state and federal government resources to aid in disaster relief, and the research and writing of several grant proposals for the Clinic in an amount totaling approximately $1 million. The deliverables were presented on May 11, 2006, to Dr. Regina Benjamin, the Clinic's chief officer and physician at a convocation of participants at Bentley. Other participants included Marketing Department Associate Professor Ellen Foxman, lead instructor for the project, and Service-Learning Assistant Director for Academic Programs Shawn Hauserman.
The overall project involved a central course of 23 students, one faculty member, and a service-learning administrator. It also involved six additional satellite courses with 54 students and six faculty members. In all, 77 students, six different academic departments, and the Service-Learning Center were involved in the project. The service-learning administrator's role was to coordinate reflection and critical thinking exercises and to act as the main contact with the Clinic in Bayou La Batre. The project also utilized a donation from Microsoft, which provided “Groove collaboration” software that allowed all faculty and student participants to post materials and converse electronically.
What follows is a summary of the particulars relating to each class of students who participated in the project and their work product.
ID299 Rebuilding Business Processes-- Ellen Foxman (Marketing) Embedded Service-Learning Component-- 23 students
This was the central course to the overall project. Students in this course acted as project managers for all deliverables. These Interdisciplinary students had the responsibility of preparing the business plan for the clinic and coordinating the work of students in the satellite courses. As part of business plan preparation for the Clinic students learned about the impact of legal and regulatory factors, the influence of cultural and socio-economic factors, and the application of technology. As part of project management students experienced how to reap the benefits and minimize the difficulties of team-based, interdisciplinary outsourcing. The students in the course were divided into five groups to develop the business plan and also to manage the projects that were developed by the six satellite courses.
CS380 Multi-tiered Application Development-- Mark Frydenberg (Computer Systems) 4th-Credit Service-Learning Component-- 3 students
Three students in this satellite course working in conjunction with several students in the main course developed a website for the Clinic. The Computer Systems students were responsible for creating the web-based application that will allow for the implementation of an active website. The ID students were responsible for populating the site with information. Because the Clinic serves a rural patient base with a large number of native Vietnamese speakers, the Bentley Vietnamese Club translated the information on the site into Vietnamese. The objective was to create an easy-to-use website that can be managed by Clinic staff without the need of having a sophisticated understanding of computer technology.
CS350 Database Management-- Monica Garfield (Computer Systems) 4th-Credit Service-Learning Component-- 3 students
Up until the hurricane hit, the Clinic's medical records were all hardcopy. The task of the three students in this satellite course was to develop a functioning database model for the electronic maintenance and storage of medical records. The database model will also allow for the generation of relevant tables, queries, forms, and reports. As with the website, the database model was to be user-friendly. To accommodate HIPPA, the model included password protection and recommendations on back-up security. It also provided a user manual for data entry. With the model in hand, the staff at the Clinic will gain experience in using a database and will be better positioned to select its final database product.
LA300 Cyberlaw-- Gerald Ferrera (Law) 4th-Credit Service-Learning Component-- 3 students
NS130 Natural Disasters-- Anna Tary (Natural and Applied Sciences) 4th-Credit Service-Learning Component-- 2 students
While Hurricane Katrina has come and gone, the potential for future hurricanes and other disasters along the Gulf coast remains high. The objective of the Natural Science satellite course was to develop a disaster preparedness plan to mitigate the adverse effects on the Clinic of future natural disasters. The three aspects of this deliverable included providing recommendations for an alternate energy supply to deal with interruptions in regular energy services; providing recommendations for a back-up water supply; and providing recommendations for hurricane-proofing the Clinic building with regard to roofing, windows, and other structural elements.
GO218 Media and Politics-- Jeff Gulati (Government) Embedded and 4th-Credit Service-Learning Components-- 24 students
The goal of the Government students was two-fold: to develop a list of governmental resources available to the Clinic to meet its short-term and long-term objectives and to provide a public relations plan for the Clinic to use in focusing the print and electronic media on the work of the Clinic. This was done in the context of the overall course objective of teaching students how politicians, interest groups, non-profits, and others advance their political objectives through the media. All students in this course participated in the development of the deliverable. The class was divided into six groups of four students. One student in each group coordinated the project for the group, met with the other GO group coordinators and the ID students, and decided on the best proposed media deliverable.
EXP201 Advanced Inquiry and Writing-- Joan Altas (English) Embedded Service-Learning Component-- 19 students
Divided into five groups of approximately four students each, the Expository Writing students researched and wrote grant proposals for the Clinic. Each group respectively worked on a grant for technology purchases, employee salaries, medical subcontracting, bricks and mortar grants, and community health outreach programming. To assist in the researching of grants, Bentley purchased an electronic subscription to the Foundation Center. The EXP deliverable included a bibliography of granting authorities in each of the five areas as well as five grant proposals. As with the other groups, the work of these students was coordinated with the work of the main course through the respective ID coordinators.