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Community Engagement Scholars Program:

Integrative Community Engagement Project (ICEP)



Whitney Weber


Graduated: May 2011
Major: Biology, Society, and the Environment

Whitney's Project: Whitney's project was a pre-service training for Biology Without Borders, which she was president of during her last year. She facilitated the training with the 2010 Peru Group and the 2011 Tanzania Group. The purpose of the training was to develop a framework and mindset for service, obtain background knowledge on the communities where the members are serving, understand the purpose of service, and to develop skills for ethical volunteering. This includes respect for culture and the understanding of possible unintended consequences of volunteering. The training was given in subsequent years by the new leaders of the organization.

Relation to Major: At first it may seem difficult to draw parallels between Biochemistry, Anatomy, Ecology and ethical volunteerism. One thing that Whitney discovered as an undergraduate is that many of the complex issues of our society, be it health disparities, climate change, etc., are best addressed by multiple disciplines. Whitney's training borrowed from several non-Biological disciplines such as Ethics, Sociology, and Political Science. One interpretation of the name "Biology Without Borders" is that to understand the issues, we need to understand other disciplines in addition to our own. Much of the volunteering that Biology Without Borders has done, such as tending a community garden, preparing meals for people with HIV/AIDs, and constructing a rain water collection system have addressed issues that have an underlying biological component. However, to fully understand and address the issues it is important to understand things such as poverty, inequality, etc.

Student Development Outcomes: ICEP provided Whitney with tolerance of ambiguity since she completed a project that could have gone in many directions. Goal orientation also comes to mind for Whitney as she had to complete and plan the project and see how it fits into the goals of the organization, my past experiences and career aspirations.

See Whitney volunteering in Tanzania is in the Introduction to Student Development Outcomes video (at 3:15).