Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service (CELTS)

Mission & Vision

Service at Berea College

Berea College has a long history of service, reflected in the College motto: “Learning, Labor and Service.” Service was embedded in the dream of the founders, to create a community where blacks and whites, men and women, could learn together as equals. Since its beginnings, Berea has dedicated itself to serving African Americans and people from southern and central Appalachia who could not otherwise afford a college education. The Great Commitments recognize the importance of service to our identity, including specific commitments “….to emphasize the Christian ethic and motive of service to others” and “to serve the Appalachian region primarily through education but also by other appropriate services.” In a broader sense, the preamble to the Great Commitments calls us to strive toward a world beyond suffering and inequality, the challenges that service is meant to address. At Berea College, “…students and staff alike can work toward both personal goals and a vision of the world shaped by Christian values, such as the power of love over hate, human dignity and equality, and peace with justice.”

About the Center

Most of the current service and outreach programs have been in existence for decades, including Students for Appalachia, the Bonner Scholars Program, Habitat for Humanity, and People Who Care. In 2000, a new department, the Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service (CELTS) was created to house all of the student-led service programs and community outreach offices, and to lead an initiative to integrate service into the academic curriculum. CELTS provides a network of support and resources as well as a common meeting place for students, faculty, staff and community partners involved with Berea’s service-related activities. The opportunities for service, outreach, and service-learning facilitated by CELTS take place in the immediate Berea/Madison County community, in the larger Appalachian region, and at sites throughout the United States and the world.

Our Vision

We envision an educational system that successfully combines community service with academic learning to create an environment which challenges and prepares students to be critical thinkers, reflective learners, and active members of just communities, near and far.

Our Mission

The Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service (CELTS) educates students for leadership in service and social justice through promotion and coordination of academic service-learning and student-led community service.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students who participate in CELTS programs will demonstrate skills, knowledge, and behaviors reflecting service-oriented leadership by being able to:

  • Work and communicate effectively across differences
  • Engage constructively in conflict situations
  • Plan and implement community-based service activities or programs
  • Demonstrate ability to think critically about social issues
  • Work effectively in teams
  • Integrate the values of service and social justice into career and life goals
  • Use reflection as a means for learning and personal growth
  • Demonstrate understanding of the importance of institutional and regional context to service at Berea College
  • Act as ambassadors for service at Berea College and beyond


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