What is experiential learning and how can this model of student engagement be one of the most promising approaches to solving some of the world’s most complex problems? Join me for a convention with experiential learning guru Dr. Mara Huber and three of her students to learn more about Huber’s innovative models that center on the idea of students adding value to problem solving.
According to Huber, students- or non-licensed or degreed individuals- have something that has worth or significance. Higher Education models typically hold up degrees – and types of degrees as the significance, the source of value and we make students wait and continually prove themselves. This notion that students- and everyone- has skills and competencies that are needed and they can begin to cultivate and build capacity around them as soon as they are ready is quite radical and has really important and exciting implications. Huber believes that we get that experiential learning is important- data show the transformative benefits, but rather than recognizing and cultivating it in its most abundant and diverse forms- colleges and universities are treating it as a limited resource. We’ve got it all wrong.
Amanda Hart is a native of east side Buffalo, is an Artist and Activist who has worked on many public art projects and women’s empowerment initiatives. She is the founder and Editor of GWEM Magazine and the owner of Buffalo Custom Art. She graduated from SUNY Erie with High Honors in Social Science, achieving the Dean’s List, as well as numerous scholarships including the SUNY Chancellor’s Award in 2018. Amanda was selected to be a student board member for the national collegiate honors council as well as a student presenter at the Learning to Transgress Annual Conference in Boston, where she spoke at an idea exchange breakfast on the topic of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She was given a merit scholarship to attend the University at Buffalo, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with Distinction in 2020. While at UB, Amanda received numerous scholarships, created GWEM as the result of an ELN project and worked on an Elderly Friendliness Initiative in Nigeria. She is also a mentor for students who work on projects at the Experiential Learning Network at the University at Buffalo concerning GWEM Magazine. GWEM’s content will be taught at the University at Buffalo in the spring of 2023 for a Women Studies Internship in which Amanda will speak about the sustainable development goals and feminist journalism.
Pemba Sherpa is a 2020 alumna who double majored in psychology and legal studies. As a student, Pemba has always been passionate about giving back to her community which has allowed her to Travel to India, and Nepal as an undergrad student to participate in community development projects. Upon graduating Pemba served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the City of Buffalo Law Department and Department of Community Services. Currently, Pemba works as an Education and Research Fellow with America Works studying workforce development policies and programs. Upon completion of her fellowship in July Pemba will travel and live in Nepal for 10 months to pursue the Fulbright ETA for the 2022-2023 Academic year. After returning from Fulbright Pemba plans to attend graduate school to study International Development and Public Administration. In the future, Pemba hopes to pursue a career with USAID as an Education Officer and be able to continue serving the global community
Danielle Nerber is a Buffalo native DO/MPH student pursuing a field in women’s health as well as public and global health. Her first experience with experiential learning was in 2017 when she attended a community development-based study abroad program in Tanzania through the University at Buffalo while obtaining her B.A. in Anthropology. Here, she helped start a reusable sanitary pad project designed to not only improve the reproductive health of women in rural areas of East Africa, but also to encourage entrepreneurship and sustainability. She has continued to bring this knowledge of cultural competency and concern for health disparities among women globally throughout her career in medical school. She plans to continue to use experiential learning as a crucial part to becoming the physician she dreams to be.
Dr. Huber serves as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Research and Experiential Learning and Director of the Experiential Learning Network (ELN) at the University at Buffalo. For nearly 20 years she has designed scalable engagement models that support student growth and community impact. In 2018, she led the creation of the ELN Project Portal, an award-winning model that connects students with mentored projects and awards digital badges in Global Collaboration, Mentored Research, Innovation, and Sustainability. The Portal features engagement with NGOs in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria, and addresses the UN Sustainable Development Goals through virtual collaboration. These efforts build on a 10-year partnership with NGOs in the Mara Region of Tanzania and a yearly study abroad trip focused on social innovation and women’s empowerment. She is a frequent facilitator, mentor and speaker and hosts a blog site at https://marabhuber.com/.