The Water Supply in Developing Countries (WSDC) service-learning course at Purdue University has fostered a strong partnership with the La Vega region in the Dominican Republic since 2012. During this time, an interdisciplinary group of engineering and science students has helped design drinking water treatment systems and the group has developed water, sanitation, and health (WASH) education materials. These WASH education and water safety approaches often have been conducted in person in the past. However, with the state of the COVID-19 pandemic and the inability to travel in the fall and spring semesters of the 2020–2021 academic year, the students have been exploring (1) the impact of the pandemic on the community schools in the La Vega province, (2) the impact of the pandemic on the current water treatment systems, and (3) possible solutions to implement a “virtual installation” of a water treatment system at our newest partner school in the community of Desecho. The coronavirus pandemic has ushered in a new way that we may approach our service-learning experiences in the future. More specifically, in the future, it may be more effective to serve as a “virtual consulting firm” of engineers and consultants, rather than builders, for the implementation and design of the water treatment systems. In this way, we may facilitate a partnership that fosters community agency and solution-based approaches to technical issues are led by local community members.
Ley, Christiane; Angert, Danielle; Hudelson, Tessa; and Harris, Jordan
"Adapting Global Service-Learning Project and Community Partnership Outcomes Using a “Tele-engineering” Approach in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic,"
Purdue Journal of Service-Learning and International Engagement: Vol. 8
Available at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/pjsl/vol8/iss1/5