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University presents immersive learning awards to faculty

Contributed by: Gail L Werner
Published: Wednesday, 18 February 2015 4:00 PM
Five Ball State University faculty members were honored Feb. 17 for their mentoring of student teams that completed outstanding immersive learning projects in the last two years.

Award-winning projects included the rehabilitation of existing houses in Muncie, the study of water quality in the upper Mississinewa River basin, the conversion of a former auto salvage yard to a community green space, and a documentary and website examining the challenges of growing and selling food locally. Receiving 2015 Immersive Learning Awards were:

Janet Fick, instructor of technology—Fick mentored 39 students from construction management, architecture, interior design, historic preservation, and industry and technology over three semesters as part of an ongoing project with community partner Greater Muncie Habitat for Humanity. The group redesigned and rehabilitated eight houses for local families.

Lee Florea, assistant professor of geological sciences, and Adam Kuban, assistant professor of journalism—The two mentored an interdisciplinary team of 34 students over three semesters, helping enhance the public's understanding of science through studying water quality in regional watersheds of east central Indiana. Community partners included the Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District; Flat Land Resources, a Muncie environmental consulting firm; and the Red-tail Land Conservancy, a nonprofit land trust managing property and conservation easements in central Indiana.

John Pitchel, professor of natural resources and environmental management—Under Pitchel's leadership, more than 30 students in natural resources and environmental management and landscape architecture improved a former brownfield site on Muncie’s east side. Work on the project started in 2012 and long-term plans for the resulting green space include connecting it with nearby Rotary Park and the Cardinal Greenway. Community partners were Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler, the South Muncie Community Development District, and Delaware County Community Corrections.

Andrea Powell Wolfe, assistant professor of English—As part of a seminar at the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry, Wolfe led an interdisciplinary team of 14 students in creating a 35-minute documentary, “Down to Earth: Small Farm Issues in a Big Farm World.” The film follows a local food producer and large-animal veterinarian through a week of life on the farm, at the farmers market, and on veterinary calls. It aired on WIPB-TV and was screened at film festivals in South Bend and Indianapolis. Community partners included Becker Farms in Mooreland, Indiana, and Muncie's Living Lightly Fair.

Faculty winners received $2,500 stipends with their awards. Twenty-two projects were nominated, representing nearly 30 faculty and 500 students.