University of Cincinnati freshmen taking a service-learning Honors English course are getting to work two weeks before classes begin on Sept. 24. They won’t be using pens and notebooks for this part of their class project – they’ll be using hardhats, hammers and nails. The work by the Honors students takes place Sept. 9-13 and Sept. 16-20.
Over the next two weeks, the Honors students will begin building on UC’s sixth university-wide partnership with Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity. Once classes begin and under the instruction of Beverly Brannan, a field service instructor for English & Comparative Literature (McMicken College of Arts & Sciences), the students will write about their experiences as they reflect on the meaning of community.
As the actual site for the new home is prepared in a new location at 3253 Wolseley Dr. in Avondale, the Honors students will be pre-framing the walls for the home on UC’s campus at the site where Sawyer Hall was formerly located. They will also volunteer at other Habitat sites around Cincinnati.
As construction gets underway during fall quarter, student volunteers from across the university will spend their Saturdays working at the site through the end of the academic year. The home will be formally dedicated in the spring.
UC’s sixth project with Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity holds additional student input into the actual design of the home, with the idea of designing a Habitat home to better accommodate families with disabilities. In a competition sponsored by Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity, the UC Center for Community Engagement, the UC Institute for Community Partnerships, the Office of the University Architect, the UC College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) and the UC Community Design Center, architecture students were challenged last year to incorporate attractive, effective, affordable designs into Habitat homes to accommodate people with disabilities.
The competition was created around the following criteria in designing such a home
Regular UC/Habitat volunteer Mike Benkert, a graduate student in architecture who earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture from UC last spring, helped introduce basic sustainable affordable design strategies into the project. The updates to the three-bedroom, one bath, ranch-style home include a handicapped-accessible concrete ramp that is integrated seamlessly into the landscape, an idea that is also going to be added to the home under construction next door. A slightly vaulted ceiling opens up the interior of the home. Overhangs on the south side of the home provide for additional shade in the summer and increased wall thickness will provide for additional insulation, lowering energy bills. The design also incorporates modified cabinets and a larger bathroom.
The UC Honors Program serves more than 1,800 UC students representing every undergraduate college on campus. Freshman volunteers in the service-learning English course represent majors in engineering, pre-nursing, theater design production and education. Honors coursework and out-of-the-classroom experiences emphasize the University Honors themes of community engagement, global studies, leadership, research and creative arts.
UC commits to the funding and to supplying the volunteers for its annual builds with Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity. The UC/Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity partnership is supported by Fifth Third Bank, the Messer Construction Company and UC Athletics with support from University Dining Services, which provides Saturday lunches for the volunteers. Every year, as many as 175 UC student, staff and faculty volunteers dedicate around 1,700 hours alongside a qualifying family to build a home.
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