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Service-Learning Capstone in Public Relations

Making a Difference: Service-Learning Capstone in the Public Relations Program

The Mission

Service-Learning in UT’s Public Relations capstone class provides students with hands-on learning experience in the development and planning of an entire communication campaign, including research, action planning, communication, and evaluation techniques. This course is offered every fall and spring semester.

The Partners

Community partners have ranged from the US Army National Guard, The Scarecrow Foundation, the Pigeon Forge Hospitality Association, the Salvation Army, Big Brother/Big Sisters, the Harper Woods Police Department in Michigan, and the Undergraduate Admissions Department at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. University of Tennessee, Knoxville partners include students and faculty in the School of Advertising & Public Relations.

Impact on UT

Fall and Students Scarecrow 400Lisa Fall, third from left, with some public relations students at the Derby Days fundraiser for the Scarecrow Foundation, which works to end hunger and malnutrition in Knoxville and East Tennessee. (Source: Tennessee Today)

Projects in the Public Relations capstone course focus on developing and maintaining relationships between UT and various community organizations. This ongoing partnership model provides students with an experiential learning opportunity to work with a real client in a business organization. Students are provided a basis for learning and actually applying key public relations principles, strategies, and tactics. The course helps students develop, sharpen and refine their public relations and communication skills while building professional portfolios and networks for future employment.

Impact on Community

This semester’s client is the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TNCWN), based in Knoxville. The TNCWN has also partnered with Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing, LLC, to host an annual dragon boat race to raise money. UT students are charged with developing a recruiting campaign to encourage more participation in this event, which, in turn, will increase funding opportunities for TNCWN. “This semester’s client project is unique because students get so see how a nonprofit and a for-profit are collaborating to raise money for a state-wide concern: keeping our waters clean,” explained Dr. Fall.

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Dr. Lisa Fall


Making an Impact: College of Communication and Information Spotlights Fall, Levine


Click here to read about more Partnerships that Make a Difference.