Applied Learning

Our Work

AL-Logo-transparent-01.pngSince its inception in 2013 as a result of the SACS Quality Enhancement Plan process, the Office of Applied Learning has supported faculty, staff, and students in facilitating and engaging in high-impact practices such as undergraduate research, service learning, community-based research, experience-based research, internships, education abroad, arts-based learning, innovation and entrepreneurship, and student leadership experiences. This support includes financial, professional development, communication and promotion, assessment, and more.

Applied learning at UNCW is a vital part of our university's culture. Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to engage in applied learning activities and to find new ways to transform education through applied learning.

Applied Learning Awards

The Office of Applied Learning started recognizing exceptional efforts to support applied learning experiences with the Applied Learning Awards in 2019. Multiple awards are recognized annually by the Office of Applied Learning including the Project of the Year and Excellence in Applied Learning. In response to the pandemic and the innovative adaptations implemented by project leaders, the Office of Applied Learning also awarded a Pivot Award in 2021.

Pivot Award

The Applied Learning Pivot Award is offered to recognize excellence in transitioning an applied learning experience in an effort to adapt to the challenges presented by COIVD-19. The nominee could include an individual or group of individuals that have collaborated on a single applied learning initiative that was adapted.

2021 Winner: Amy Long, Environmental Sciences
Adapted Course: EVSL 195: Environmental Sciences Lab   

Applied Learning Project of the Year

The Applied Learning Project of the Year Award is offered to recognize excellence in an individual applied learning project. The nominee could include an individual or group of individuals that have collaborated on a single applied learning initiative. There shall be one Applied Learning Project of the Year Award given each year.

2021 Winner: Interdisciplinary Minority Student Research Group (IMSRG)
Project Team: Josalin Hunter (Social Work), Sabrina Cherry (HAHS), Addie China (English), Kris Hohn (Social Work), Anka Roberto (Nursing) & Alicia Sellon (Social Work)

Excellence in Applied Learning

The Excellence in Applied Learning Award is offered to recognize excellence in and demonstrated commitment to the integration of the UNCW model of applied learning into teaching and pedagogy. Awardees will have a history of leadership and contribution to applied learning. Award is intended for a full-time faculty or staff member that has been an ambassador of applied learning on campus and in the community.

2021 Winner: Jacquelyn Lee, Social Work


Applied Learning Summer Institute 

The Applied Learning Summer Institute is a signature program for the Office of Applied Learning. Started in 2013, the Summer Institute was originally developed to provide an opportunity for faculty interested in learning more about implementing applied learning in their classrooms. Over the years the Summer Institute has evolved to include staff, students, and community partners. In 2020 and 2021 the Summer Institute transitioned to a fully virtual format due to the ongoing pandemic. Recordings from the sessions at the 2020 and 2021 Summer Institute are linked below and feature presentations from UNCW faculty, staff, students, and community partners engaged in high impact applied learning from a diverse range of disciplines and departments.

Recordings from the Summer Institute 2020

Recording from the Summer Instititute 2021

Special Initiatives 

The Office of Applied Learning works collaboratively with units across campus to support the development and integration of applied learning in new areas and/or to open access to applied learning experiences for underserved populations.  

Arts & Community Engagement: Arts Equity Fellowship 

The Office of Applied Learning partners with the Office of the Arts to support the development of arts equity fellowship that was first piloted in spring 2021. The fellowship supports teams of faculty members and students to work collaboratively with community-based artists to explore and engage with equity issues through the arts.  

Spring 2021 Pilot Projects 
Artist: Michael Williams, founder of the Black on Black Project  
Faculty: Josalin Hunter-Jones and Anka Roberto 
Equity Fellows: John Smith and Jacobi Lloyd 
Artist: Dare Coulter, founder of Dare Coulter Art  
Faculty: Jana Robertson 
Equity Fellows: Schala Harper and Kia Thompson 

Internships & Community Engagement: District C Fellowship 

The Office of Applied Learning partners with the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) to support the District C fellowship program first piloted in Spring 2021. The fellowship supports faculty members from UNCW to participate in the District C coaching institute and earn District C certification. Fellows implement the District C model in their own teaching or engagement experiences for students after certification. 

District C provides a model for engaging students in solving real world problems. The District C model relies on expert coaching and diverse teams of students to solve real problems for real businesses. The District C model has 4 critical parts: flexible mindsets and tools, diverse teams & real problems, purposeful coaching, and smart implementation. Central to the model is a Coaching Institute where future adopters of the District C model engage in an applied approach to not only learn about the model but experience it as students in its implementation. 

Undergraduate Research: First-Year Research Experience (FYRE) & Community College Undergraduate Research Experience (CCURE) 

The Office of Applied Learning partners with the Center for the Support of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CSURF) and the Honors College to support the First-Year Research Experience (FYRE) first piloted in spring 2018. FYRE engages first-year students in research opportunities in order to educate them about the basics of research and to expose them to a potential pathway for engagement.  

In spring 2021 the collaboration expanded to include the Community College Undergraduate Research Experience (CCURE), which invites community college students to participate in a FYRE section while still enrolled at their respective community college. CCURE seeks to open pathways to undergraduate research for community college students who may otherwise be disadvantaged after transferring. CCURE is also supported by a collaboration with the Community College Leadership certificate program in Watson College of Education. 

Education Abroad & Online Learning: Virtual Exchange Programs 

The Office of Applied Learning partners with the Office of International Programs to support the development and implementation of virtual exchange programs (VEPs). VEPs are virtual international programs that align with the goals of traditional study abroad experiences, but open access for participants regardless of location or ability to travel.  

Virtual Exchange Program Workshop Series: Fridays, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., February 26, March 12 & April 16, 2021 

The Office of Applied Learning and Office of International Programs have collaborated on the development of a three-part workshop series to support the design and development of Virtual Exchange Programs (VEP). The workshop series will be facilitated by Dr. Lance Cummings, Associate Professor of English at UNCW, who built upon his previous experiences with international partners to develop a VEP during COVID-19. Participants should plan to attend all three workshops in the series, which are being held from 10-11:30 a.m. on Fridays: February 26, March 12, and April 16. All levels of experience with international and virtual program development are welcome as the information can be used to develop a new idea or adapt an existing education abroad experience. For more information or to register to attend please email