February 13, 2022
Professor Heiman continues LFCoB’s commitment to community engagement & service learning
From local businesses to national-level firms, the Lam Family College of Business (LFCoB) pursues a wide array of community engagement and community service learning (CEL/CSL) initiatives. The only problem is that, outside of LFCoB, few people know about it. Bruce Heiman, professor in the International Business Department, is helping to change that. He is spearheading four exciting initiatives to more effectively facilitate, document, and implement CEL/CSL in the college.
Three of these initiatives will provide much-needed funding for CEL/CSL. An honorarium will be provided for guest speakers at LFCoB, while mini-grants will be provided for faculty and staff civic engagement projects. This marks a new level of commitment to CEL/CSL, as previous work by faculty and staff was unfunded. Additionally, performance awards will be available to LFCoB faculty and staff based upon the impact of their civic engagement with communities surrounding SFSU and within LFCoB.
These initiatives build upon the wide array of CEL/CSL activities that occur regularly within LFCoB. For instance, Professor Katie Hetherington leads the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA), in which undergraduate students prepare tax returns for community members for free. Heiman is developing a data tracking tool to more effectively track and document civic engagement activities such as this within the LFCoB. From logistical planning to maintaining long-term community partnerships, such tracking and documentation are of vital importance.
Looking ahead to Fall 2022, Heiman is planning for the LFCoB’s eighth annual Women’s Emerging Leadership Forum (WELF). This forum brings together female leaders and LFCoB faculty to discuss their ideas and experiences. This provides SFSU students with frontline insights and lessons, as well as great networking opportunities. Last year’s forum on April 2, 2021, featured five influential female leaders from the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, Dodge & Cox, LinkedIn, Apple Special Projects Group, and Lingrove.
Faculty Engaged Research Highlight: Dr. Sameer Verma explores various methods of digital access worldwide
Modern-day access to information is predicated on access to digital infrastructure. However, access to the Internet remains elusive for almost half of the world's population, let alone sustainable access in one’s local language, local context, and relating to local culture. Dr. Sameer Verma, professor of, Information Systems department (College of Business) has worked in this space for several years. Most notable is his involvement with One Laptop per Child (OLPC) now in its 12th year. One Laptop per Child’s mission is to provide each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop. “Making a difference one laptop at a time” appeared in SF State News in 2010 and Dr. Sameer continues to produce great scholarship around this year-after-year.
OLPC designs hardware, content, and software for collaborative, joyful, and self-empowered learning. With access to this type of tool, children are engaged in their own education, and learn, share, and create together. While Dr. Verma is the founder and organizer of One Laptop per Child, San Francisco volunteer community, he has also worked on projects in Jamaica, Madagascar, and India. In all these instances, he has explored various methods of providing digital access to information in schools and libraries, whether these be on the Internet or offline. Dr. Verma has written several research papers based on this community-based project, for example, his study of early observations from OLPC was published with co-authors in the a 2016 issue of the Caribbean Journal of Education.
In other projects, which were specifically focused on health information, he has worked with WiRED International, a health information non-profit, founded by SF State Professor Gary Selnow. With WiRED, Dr. Verma has created offline Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems that are currently in use in Peru and Kenya. His students have collaborated in this experience through Independent Study courses and through their Master’s level thesis/culminating experience. He continues to engage students in research and service learning to build solutions for information access around the world. Students feel a sense of belonging and contribution when they see their solutions used in far-reaching places. He is excited to work on two new projects in Ethiopia and Honduras over this spring semester!