AUSTIN, Texas – Associate Professor of Social Work and African & African Diaspora Studies Dorie Gilbert has received a Tower Award from The University of Texas at Austin for her international study abroad course, Ghana: Social and Community Development. This Maymester Abroad course offered by Gilbert was recognized as the university’s Outstanding Academic Service Learning course.

Maymester Abroad courses are four-to-five week programs that take place immediately following the spring semester and are led by UT faculty. Ghana: Social and Community Development presents UT Austin students with an opportunity to participate in a unique service-learning based course with sustainable practices of community development in an under-represented location in study abroad.

“Today’s students are looking for ways to make an impact on the world; I wanted to focus the course on student-driven, short-term, high-impact sustainable projects. It’s really about uniting academics with action,” said Gilbert, who established Ghana: Social and Community Development in 2009. “A unique aspect of the Maymester course is that students work alongside Ghanaian university peers who also benefit from being part of the program.”

Students in Gilbert’s course raise funds for the academic service learning projects they implement through the student organization, Students in Partnership with Ghanaian Development (SPGD), a partnership between UT Austin students and those attending the University of Ghana at Legon to design, implement and sustain development projects. They are currently seeking donations for various projects. More information can be found on the SPGD Web site:

Gilbert also directs the Institute for Community Development: U.S. and Abroad, a unit of the school’s Center for Social Work Research.

The Tower Awards, sponsored by the UT Austin Volunteer and Service Learning Center, recognize outstanding service within the university community and beyond.

“The ceremony’s name reflects the dedication of UT students, faculty and staff to community service, who take advantage of their education gained at UT and effectively use it,” said Gregory Vincent, vice president of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

See link to The Daily Texan article about Dr. Gilbert and the Tower Awards ceremony: