University of Vermont

Office of Community-University Partnerships & Service Learning

Interviewing Inmates for Change

Senior Molly Jeffries became aware of the correlation between income and education and incarceration rates in her upper-level criminal justice course. It wasn’t until she sat across from an inmate at a Vermont correctional facility while conducting a survey for the Department of Corrections that she saw the reality of being on the wrong side of that equation.

“As sociology students our focus is on the fine line between the two,” says Jeffries. “This project showed us just how fine that line really is and that it could easily be me on the other side. This experience really humanized all of the people we interviewed and made me realize how lucky we are.”

Sociology Professor Alice Fothergill started the process in her Service Learning Internship seminar, which typically has students work 10-15 hours per week at a local non-profit agency or organization. “I can’t think of anything like this where everyone in the department worked together on a project with students and a community partner,” she said. “That’s what we’re here for as sociologists – to actually affect policy and outcomes, not just study problems.”

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Service-Learning Internships

To work more closely with a community partner or local employer, complete a Service-Learning Internship for academic credit. These courses allow you to pursue an internship with a community partner, while engaging in structured reflection connected to your major.

SL Internship Opportunities

Several departments offer SL internship courses, including Sociology, RSENR, and Human Development & family Studies. Beginning in Fall ’15, SL internships will also be offered in the College of Arts & Sciences; contact Dana Christiansen for more information.

If your department does not offer a service-learning internship, you can take EDSS 239: Service-Learning Internship for variable credit, offered in the spring, fall and summer.

If you’re interested in Vermont-based placements, consider becoming a Vermont Research Intern with the Center for Research on Vermont.

Students with particular interest in food systems can pursue a Food Systems Internship through UVM Extension. Visit the Food Systems Internship page or Connect with Program Coordinator Matt Myers to learn more.


The Anna Whitcomb Internship Scholarship provides funding for students who take on unpaid internships.

Last modified June 12 2015 05:49 PM