CBL Office Welcomes New Faculty Coordinator

Dr. Debra Fetherman shares her passion, expertise in Community-Based Learning in new role. 
CBL Office Welcomes New Faculty Coordinator

In the fall of 2022, the Office of Community-Based Learning (CBL) welcomed a new CBL Faculty Coordinator, Debra L. Fetherman, Ph.D., MCHES. Dr. Fetherman is an associate professor of Health and Human Performance and is the director of the Health Promotion Program. Since joining the University in 2005, she has demonstrated her deep passion for engaging with the Scranton area community and interest in pedagogy, assessment and supporting her fellow faculty members.  

In her CBL role, Dr. Fetherman follows Meghan Ashlin Rich, Ph.D., associate professor of Sociology/Criminal Justice and Women’s Studies who served as the inaugural CBL faculty coordinator from 2017-2020. Under the leadership of Dr. Ashlin Rich, the CBL Office and faculty coordinator role was established and grew, including new faculty resources such as the annual CBL faculty workshop and other training and networking opportunities.  

Engaging in CBL since 2006, Dr. Fetherman has incorporated several multi-year projects addressing partner needs in the community. Her first CBL project at the University was The Growing Stronger Project, a strength training and nutrition education program targeting older adults in the community. With community-partner, the Lackawanna County PA State Cooperative Extension, this program was offered at multiple senior centers in the county.   

Dr. Fetherman has cultivated strong relationships with community partners including St. Joseph’s Center and the Autism Collaborative Centers of Excellence, Executive Hub at The University of Scranton.  Despite the challenges during the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Fetherman has continued to support community-partners organizations by adapting presentations to virtual formats and working with her students on community-based research projects. In her new role, Dr. Fetherman hopes to support her fellow faculty members as they incorporate CBL into their courses. In her first year, Dr. Fetherman and the CBL Board are creating new opportunities, including a new CBL Faculty Fellows program as well as workshops and resources related to reflection and assessment.  
“Community-based learning represents Jesuit values in action and is a best practice of Ignatian pedagogy.  CBL creates an exceptional teaching and learning experience where all involved (faculty, students, and community members) embody being men and women for and with others,” said Dr. Fetherman.  

Dr. Fetherman also partnered with St. Joseph’s Center to assist with the development and implementation of The CareStrong Wellness Program, an employee wellness program. Dr. Fetherman’s recent projects include a spring 2021 partnership with St. Joseph’s to develop physical activity interventions for employees. Students in her HPRO 413: Worksite Health Promotion created a “Pop-Up Wellness Facilitator Guide” for the center to implement brief wellness breaks throughout the workday. In the same semester, her HPRO 320: Health Promotion Program Planning students developed employee physical activity interventions for Saint Joseph's Center.  

This spring her HPRO 340 “Health Literacy” course is continuing the CBL partnership with Erin Dunleavy, Ph.D., the director of The Autism Collaborative Centers of Excellence, Executive Hub at The University of Scranton to help identify the health literacy needs of the center, its partners, and priority populations. This collaboration began in the fall semester of 2021 with Health Promotion students in the HPRO 410 “Health Communication” course completing the first CBL project focused on the Center’s needs related to health literacy. Dr. Fetherman’s students learned about the community context of this project by hearing from a guest speaker from hub, onsite orientation at the center, attendance at one parent support group meeting via Zoom with pre- and post-reflection writing activities, class written reflection activity on autism personal stories, and autism myth quiz. A summary of the course’s findings was shared with Dr. Dunleavy.  

“Dr. Fetherman brings long experience in how to create and sustain community partnerships in ways that benefit student learning goals and prioritize and respond to the needs of the community. We are excited to build on the good work of the last few years to also create new support opportunities for faculty looking to improve their current CBL courses or create new community-engaged activities.” Said Julie Schumacher Cohen, Chair of the CBL Board and Assistant Vice President for Community Engagement and Government Affairs.   

The Office of Community-Based Learning was created in 2017 to strengthen and expand CBL across the University, reflecting the commitment to reciprocal relationships that support both student learning and the greater Scranton community. For more information, please visit scranton.edu/CBL or contact cbl@scranton.edu 

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