About the Program

Established in 2000, Berea College’s service-learning program resides in the Center for Excellence in Learning through Service. Service-learning staff work with faculty and community organizations. Together, they design collaborative projects that address community issues. These projects allow students to develop and apply academic and critical thinking skills. Through service-learning, students make connections between academic course content and community issues. Service-learning also facilitates the exchange of ideas, knowledge and resources between Berea College, the local community, the Appalachian region, and beyond.

Service-learning is an educational experience based upon a collaborative partnership between college and community. It allows students to apply academic knowledge and critical thinking skills to meet community needs. Students gain deeper knowledge of course content and the importance of civic engagement. This is accomplished through reflection and assessments. (Definition developed by the Berea College Service-Learning Advisory Committee, March 2004.)

At Berea College, we believe that three elements must be present for an activity to be considered a service-learning partnership. These three elements are:

The service-learning has become a significant feature of the College’s academic program. First, the number of service-learning courses taught each semester has increased. Second, new programs for faculty and community partner development have been established. Last, support for service-learning collaborations has grown. Today, service-learning courses are included 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.

Service-Learning Programs

Berea College nursing student

Working with a community partner made me see what types of barriers community members experience that prevent them from getting an optimal healthcare experience.

NUR 448 Student

Community Partner Seminar in Service-Learning

The participants in the first Community Partner Seminar were Gina Chamberlain of Madison County Home Energy Improvement Program (MCHEIP); Jeff From of Re-Entry Partners (REP); Carissa Lenfert of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC); Robyn Moreland of Hope’s Wings; Alice Reppert of the Madison County Health Department; and Jerry Workman of the Berea Community Food Bank and Berea Utilities and Rent Relief (BURR). Since the first seminar in 2009, many other members of the community have joined together at this seminar to learn, share and develop service-learning projects for their organizations.

Service-Learning Workshops

CELTS offers occasional service-learning workshops for faculty, community partners and students. These professional development opportunities are designed to increase understanding and improve practice of service-learning. Check with the CELTS office for upcoming workshops.

Service-Learning Teaching Assistant Trainings

CELTS offers semester-long trainings for Teaching Assistants (TAs) who are working with service-learning courses. The trainings begin early in the semester with an introduction to service-learning and continue throughout the semester with regular meetings focused on relevant topics, including facilitating relationships with community partner organizations and facilitating reflection activities.

Service-Learning Course Expo

At the end of each term, CELTS hosts a Service-Learning Course Expo to highlight the service-learning work that has taken place that semester. Faculty, students and community partners present exhibits about their service-learning projects at this event, which is open to the campus and the broader community. The SL Course Expo is a great place to increase understanding of service-learning and to talk with others about ideas for future service-learning collaborations.

Faculty Seminars in Service-Learning

CELTS offer Faculty Seminars in Service-Learning that provide faculty members an intensive opportunity to explore service-learning through readings and discussions. By the end of the seminar, each of the faculty participants develops a service-learning course and syllabus, which they teach during the following academic year.

Feedback from the faculty participants indicates that they appreciate this opportunity to build community with other faculty members and to focus intentionally on developing their knowledge and understanding of service-learning. Several faculty have stated that they feel the seminar has improved not only their teaching of service-learning, but that their teaching in general has improved through their participation in the seminar.

The faculty who have completed the seminar thus far represent the following disciplines: Agriculture, Appalachian Studies, Business, Chemistry, Child and Family Studies, Computer Science, Economics, Education, English, Health and Physical Education, History, Nursing, Psychology, Religion, SENS, Sociology, Theatre and Women’s Studies.

Service-Learning Support Grants

CELTS offers a limited number of grants to support the costs that may arise during service-learning projects. CELTS is able to offer two different types of support grants – Service-Learning Project Grants and Service-Learning Presentation Grants. These grants are designated for collaborative service-learning projects among Berea College faculty, Berea College students and community partners. Successful applications will be consistent with the basic principles of service learning. To apply for a Service-Learning Support Grant, complete the Service-Learning Support Grant Proposal Form and submit it to Ashley Cochrane.

Courses and Projects

Completing a designated service-learning course is one way for Berea College students to meet the Active Learning Experience (ALE) requirement of the General Education Program. Faculty members may submit a proposal for their course to be approved as a service-learning course. Contact Ashley Cochrane, CELTS Director, for further information.