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Five University of Tennessee, Knoxville, students are working with community partners this summer to promote social justice through positive change in the Scholars Engaged in Public Scholarship (SEPS) program.

It’s the first year for the new living and learning program, designed to promote collaboration between student scholars and communities. The eight-week program is open to Haslam Scholar students. Public scholarship is a collaborative approach that brings students and communities together through research and service to work on some of society’s most pressing social problems.

The UT scholars—students Evan Ford, junior in philosophy from Franklin, Tennessee; Shivani Goyal, junior in psychology from Knoxville; Andrea Richardson, sophomore in anthropology from Memphis; R.J. Vogt, junior in journalism from Franklin, Tennessee; and Christopher Ludtka, junior in chemical engineering from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, live together in off-campus housing during the program. They intern at four non-profits: the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office, Pond Gap Elementary School, Redeeming Hope Ministries, and Volunteer Ministry Center.

“When this program was first conceptualized, the idea was to have students live off-campus and in the communities in which they would be working as interns,” said Sylvia Turner, assistant director of the Haslam Scholars Program. “Their residential status in the community would give them first-hand knowledge about the health of the community, how community priorities are established, how problems are addressed, and provide a more authentic engagement with the community.”

The young scholars are assigned weekly readings to reflect on their experiences through journaling and group discussions led by faculty, staff, and community partners. Scholars are asked to consider how their own upbringing and communities have influenced their development, beliefs, and values.

Discussions have included UT chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek; Knoxville mayor Madeline Rogero; Robert Kronick, professor of educational psychology and counseling; Bruce Wheeler, professor emeritus of history; Knox County public defender Mark Stevens; Steve Diggs, executive director of Emerald Youth Foundation; and Rick Kuhlman, director of Knoxville Fellows Program.

The program wraps up Sunday, July 28. For more information about Haslam Scholars, visit the program’s website.

C O N T A C T :

Katherine Saxon (865-974-8365,

Sylvia Turner (865-974-2479,