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April 22, 2014

OU College of Architecture explores new service learning opportunity in Zambia

NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma College of Architecture is exploring new ways to help students gain unique experiences through study-abroad opportunities.

To complement the successful Sooners in Rome program — a semester-long study in an international studio in the heart of Italy — and several intersession programs in Europe, the college will add a service learning program in Zambia’s capital city of Lusaka.

Service learning is a teaching approach that combines traditional learning with community service.

Charles Graham, dean of the College of Architecture, said the establishment of a design studio in Lusaka will better the lives of those in the region through design. One of the outcomes of the proposed program will be the development of better housing and schools throughout the community.

The college will work with Family Legacy, an organization in Lusaka with established youth educational and aid programs.

Graham — as well as Tom Woodfin, director of the Division of Landscape Architecture; John Harris, assistant professor of regional and city planning; Dave Boeck, associate professor of architecture; and program supporter and alumnus Raymond Harris — traveled to Lusaka in March to learn more about the city, the opportunities for learning and proposed student and faculty accommodations.

While there, the group toured the city and several Family Legacy camps to gain a better understanding of the needs of children and families in the community.

Commenting on the economic environment, Graham said, “Eighty-six percent of Zambia’s population lives on less than $1 per day, and the life expectancy is only 51 years. Poverty and homelessness are everywhere; we are trying to help provide safe environments for the many homeless children of Zambia.”

Graham also said addressing these challenges can play an important role in the education of OU students.

For more information, email coa-communications@ou.edu or call 325-2444.

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