Ada — Two East Central University professors, Dr. Christine Pappas and W.T. Skye Garcia, were recently recognized with DaVinci Fellow Awards, which honor higher education faculty whose accomplishments reflect creative and innovative approaches that have made a significant contribution to their academic discipline.
Pappas is professor and coordinator for the ECU Department of Political Science and Legal Studies, and Garcia is an instructor of music.
Pappas has a mission to rectify the problem of voter apathy by increasing civic engagement.
She has designed service-learning projects in several political science classes ranging from American Government to Research Methods. Her classes have engaged in a “Week of Work” in Hammond Heights for many years, in which Pappas wrote about in the edited volume “Civic Service.” Other projects include creating a neighborhood association in the West Side Project and establishing a graffiti hotline for Ada.
“I have engaged in many service learning projects that seek to give students the tools to engage in their community,” said Pappas. “This starts in the classroom, just learning the basics of what it means to be a citizen and how our government works. Once armed with this simple knowledge, students are equipped to tackle some of the big issues that face us.”
An example of one of her service learning projects was to tackle a project on their own accord.
“One year we were graffiti ninjas. We went around town painted over graffiti. In that instance, we just acted as private citizens and tried to solve a problem,” Pappas said. “On another occasion, we worked with students to try and draw the government’s attention to certain problems, and we’ve done voter registration drives.”
Her students have presented several times to the Ada City Council on topics such as at-large elections for city council and have written columns for The Ada News. Although many ECU students are not from Ada, Pappas’ goal is to teach students how to be engaged citizens in their home communities.