By: Henry Indictor
Our students at Sacred Heart University have made significant contributions to the nearby town of Ansonia, Ct, in an attempt to help improve the town’s conditions, by implementing their creative ideas.
The concept of this project was spearheaded by Associate Marketing Professor, Joshua Shuart, who lives in Ansonia, and has been working part time in town halls getting to know some of the city officials as he tries to help his community.
“We aim to provide our Sacred Heart students with a challenging real world project, one where they are in the drivers seat, and ultimately responsible for their success or failure,” said Shuart. “The reality is that I am always more concerned with the team following a process than I am with any ultimate outcome, so just going through the process produces an academic victory.”
The project also gave students the hands-on expereince that would benefit them in the future.
“If ever there was a perfect place to go down the proverbial rabbit hole, it is with a project such as this one. I would be willing to bet that these four students are now the preeminent experts on brownfields and remediation on the entire Sacred Heart campus,” said Shuart.
The students know that they took on a great opportunity when participating in this project and they see Shuart’s influence and leadership in improving their local community.
“Educationally, he’s helped us a lot because he’s been giving us a decent amount of reading and research materials to work with, and he’s giving us just enough instruction to help us, and then has us come up with things. And I think that’s really beneficial to students, because he’s not giving us all the answers, he’s letting us learn and he’ll give us his insight, and it’s more constructive for learning. He’s been a big help in everything,”said senior Samantha Jackson.
Jackson, a business management major at Sacred Heart, is also a local resident from Trumbull, Conn.
So, she felt compelled by the idea of helping to improve an enviornment that attracts more people to her home state.
The project is part of Sacred Heart’s Problem Based Learning Lab class, and it was a choice that Jackson chose along with senior Brendan Walsh, Nicolette Black, and junior Julian Linke.
“Our main goal is to refurbish Ansonia to make it more attractive to younger individuals. The route we’re going for right now, is a brownfield, which means ‘empty space,’ like the empty space in old industrial buildings,” said Linke.
“What we want to do is put a sports complex in that building, and a few other add-ons, to make it more attractive for younger people who want to come to Ansonia, and make them want to stay,” said Linke.
One of the important aspects of the project, is the emphasis on teamwork and all four of the students have each divided up the responsibilities in their attempts to make their vision a reality.
“We had a meeting with Dr. Shuart a few weeks ago, and we came in with a presentation, when he wasn’t even expecting a presentation. He didn’t know we were going to conduct one, but we kind of thought that it would be a better way to present all the information we had for him, and he really liked it,”said Jackson.
For the students and Dr. Shuart, it has proven to be a new kind of learning experience, and they have had some significant takeaways.
“I think above all, the students gained a great appreciation for municipal finances, and government. That angle of this project will provide a unique takeaway for the them,” said Shuart.