The Distinguished Faculty Award in Teaching was presented to Dr. Mary Ann Littleton, an associate professor in the College of Public Health’s Department of Community and Behavioral Health.
Littleton is locally and nationally known as a leader in community-based teaching and learning and interprofessional education. She designed “Trilogy: An Innovative Course Sequence for Training Community Health Professionals,” an award-winning series of three courses in which student teams assess community health needs, design a community-based intervention program or policy to address those needs, and then implement and evaluate that intervention with community input.
Littleton was one of the primary faculty members involved in ETSU’s Interprofessional Rural Track program, a collaborative initiative of the colleges in ETSU’s Academic Health Sciences Center that was funded by the Kellogg Foundation. Through this program, teams comprised of students in public health, nursing, medicine and related fields learned and worked together while affecting change in rural Appalachian communities.
Littleton also led the design and implementation of ETSU’s online Master of Public Health in Community Health degree program, which offers courses completely online and allows working professionals, parents and other non-traditional students to complete a rigorous program of study in this field. In addition, she has guided over 100 projects through community-based learning courses at the master’s and doctoral levels.
“For 15 years, (Littleton) has worked tirelessly to design and deliver unparalleled educational experiences for ETSU students, while affecting change in communities across Appalachia and the nation,” her nomination states. “While the effectiveness of community-based instruction is exceptionally high, many faculty shy away from this … approach, because it can be very time-consuming and challenging. Developing and nurturing relationships with the community and gaining the trust of community partners are no easy tasks…. (She) is fully aware of those challenges, yet she embraces community-based teaching because it is the ‘right thing’ to do. No other educational strategy allows her students to effectively learn while simultaneously empowering communities to improve their health and well-being.”
Littleton’s students praise her for her enthusiasm, patience, encouragement and understanding, as well as for the effectiveness of her teaching method.
Littleton holds a B.A. degree in psychobiology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and underwent secondary science teacher training in Sierra Leone, West Africa, through the U.S. Peace Corps. She earned her Ph.D. in health education and promotion at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, where she taught and served as a research coordinator for Community Health Advisor Programs before joining the ETSU faculty in 2002. In addition to her academic career, Littleton has worked as a licensed massage therapist and has 25 years of training and practice in various healing art techniques, including meditation, yoga, qigong and t’ai chi.