The HOPE House, a charity in India aiding needy children, had a need of its own: Its hostel for vulnerable teens, most of them girls, required better management of its food inventory so that it could nourish its charges without overstocking.
“It’s a difficult problem,” says Dr. James Wolff, associate professor of global health at Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH), in part because the inventory manager is “not literate.” But students in the professor’s Implementing Health Programs in Developing Countries class built a mobile app for HOPE’s managers, allowing them to better track the inventory.
Students got hands-on learning with a real NGO, and the NGO got management advice on the house. Student evaluations rave about Wolff and his courses: “thought-provoking,” “practical,” and “passionate.”
Those evaluations helped Wolff win one of this year’s two Metcalf Awards for Excellence in Teaching.
“Wolff easily fulfills all of the criteria” for the Metcalf, says the nominating letter from two colleagues in SPH’s global health department, Dr. Taryn Vian, a clinical professor, and Dr. Frank (Rich) Feeley, an associate professor.
“Students report spending many hours per week outside class on the projects and assignments” in his classes, they write. “We recommend that students do not try to do more than one ‘Wolffy course’ per semester because of how challenging and time-consuming the courses are.”
A gift from the late Dr. Arthur G. B. Metcalf (SED’35, Hon.’74), a BU Board of Trustees chair emeritus and former professor, funds the Metcalf awards, created in 1973 and presented at Commencement. The Metcalf Cup and Prize winner receives $10,000 and the Metcalf Award winners receive $5,000 each. A University committee selects winners based on statements of nominees’ teaching philosophy, supporting letters from colleagues and students, and classroom observations of the nominees.
Read more about the honor here.