10.5. A_LAB: Civic Engagement

Established in 2006, the center for civic engagement (CCE) in the A_LAB has become the leading force in the integration of the Oglethorpe educational experience with the city of Atlanta, enhancing student life through volunteer service projects, service learning courses, nonprofit internships, and leadership development. It has helped us to brand Oglethorpe as Atlanta’s urban liberal arts and sciences university committed to social responsibility and civic engagement.

Each semester, CCE staff support faculty teaching service learning courses by identifying and facilitating placement at Atlanta nonprofits where students complete either required 10 volunteer service hours or required 25 volunteer service hours, with opportunities for direct, practical application of classroom theory.

Programs include three University-wide annual service days:

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

On these service days, students, faculty, staff and alumni volunteer at nonprofit organizations that serve our greater Atlanta community, including (but not limited to):

  • Educational Partnerships: Drew Charter School (PreK-12th grade), and PATH Academy (5th-8th grade).
  • Day of Service Partners: Trees Atlanta, Atlanta Community Food Bank, Hosea Feed the Hungry, and Brookhaven Park.
  • Ongoing Service and Internship Partners: American Red Cross, and Crossroads Hospice.
  • Service Learning Partners: Winship Cancer Institute, and Blue Heron Nature Preserve.

Alternative Winter and Spring Break Trips are offered as week-long volunteer service opportunities in January and March, respectively. Alternative Break trips 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.

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.