Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service (CELTS)


About the Program

The Berea College service-learning program is housed in the Center for Excellence in Learning through Service. Service-learning staff work with faculty and community organizations to design collaborative projects that address community issues and that allow students to develop and apply academic and critical thinking skills.

Service-learning experiences and structured reflection provide students with the opportunity to make connections between academic course content and community issues, in the broader context of civic engagement. Service-learning also facilitates the exchange of ideas, knowledge and resources between Berea College and the local community, the Appalachian region and beyond.

What Is Service-Learning?

Service-learning is an educational experience based upon a collaborative partnership between college and community. Learning through service enables students to apply academic knowledge and critical thinking skills to meet genuine community needs. Through reflection and assessment, students gain deeper knowledge of course content and the importance of civic engagement. (Definition developed by the Berea College Service-Learning Advisory Committee, March 2004.) For more information, view our Elements of Service-Learning.

Service-Learning at Berea College

In keeping with Berea College’s strong history of service, faculty have been connecting their teaching with community service and outreach throughout the College’s history. Berea College’s formal service-learning program came into being along with the establishment of the Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service in 2000. The service-learning program at Berea College provides support for faculty, staff, students and community partners who are involved in service-learning activities. In just a few years, service-learning has become a significant feature of the academic program at Berea College. The number of service-learning courses taught each semester has increased, new programs for faculty and community partner development have been established, and support for service-learning collaborations has grown.

At Berea College today, service-learning courses are being taught in over 20 disciplines across campus. Our community partners include non-profit agencies, community organizations and schools. These organizations work in different ways toward providing needed services, promoting greater educational and economic opportunities for the Appalachian region, addressing poverty issues and working toward a more just, sustainable and peaceful world. Berea College is affiliated with regional groups, such as Just Connections, and national groups, such as Campus Compact, that are committed to using service-learning as a tool for engaged learning and to address community needs.

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