10.4. A_LAB: Civic Engagement

Established in 2006, the department of civic engagement in the A_LAB works to enhance student life by planning volunteer service projects, helping to facilitate service learning courses and nonprofit internships, and developing thoughtful community leaders. Civic engagement helps to advance Oglethorpe’s mission to produce alumni who are committed to social responsibility and connecting with the community.

Civic engagement staff support service learning by helping faculty identify appropriate Atlanta nonprofits and facilitate student placements that provide opportunities for direct, practical application of classroom theory. Two types of service learning courses are offered at Oglethorpe: SL-X and SL courses. Courses designated as SL-X require students to complete 10 volunteer service hours, while courses designated as SL require the completion of 25 volunteer service hours.

Civic engagement programming includes university-wide days of service, Alternative Break trips, and other signature volunteer and engagement opportunities.

Noteworthy University-wide days of service engage students in service projects at nonprofits around Atlanta and are listed below:

  • Orientation Day of Service (August)
  • MLK Day of Service (January)
  • OU Day of Service (April)

Alternative Break trips, held during winter and spring breaks, are immersive experiences to explore social issues, have direct service opportunities, and explore a new city or culture. Past trip locations have included: New Orleans, Savannah, Charleston, Montgomery, Tallahassee, and Guatemala. Other volunteer and engagement opportunities include Service Saturdays, Atlanta Ambassador trips, and Difficult Dialogues. These programs are designed to give students opportunities to learn more about Atlanta’s diverse communities and positively impact them.

Our partners include:

  • Service Partners: Drew Charter School, PATH Academy, Dresden Elementary School, Trees Atlanta, Atlanta Community Food Bank, Hosea Feed the Hungry, Brookhaven Park, and American Red Cross.
  • Service Learning Partners: Winship Cancer Institute and Blue Heron Nature Preserve.
  • Alternative Break Partners: Heifer International in Guatemala, Time Out Youth in Charleston, South Carolina, and Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans, Louisiana.

A broad range of students (including athletic teams, fraternities and sororities), faculty, staff and alumni participate in community service projects. For example

  • The Alpha Phi Omega fraternity, a co-ed service group, has been active at the University for more than 50 years, organizing weekly service projects on- and off-campus.
  • Two biology faculty members work closely with the Blue Heron Nature Preserve, which serves as the nonprofit site for research projects related to a biology service learning course.

As sustainability committee chair, the director of environmental studies has led successful implementation of a single stream recycling program and community garden.