Mercer has viewed community service as an integral part of its educational experience since its founding in 1833. The University created the first official "service-learning" course that integrated student service as part of the learning experience in 1970, when it introduced "The Experimental Freshman Program," which required service projects and civic advocacy from its students. The aims of that early program were to develop student self-responsibility and encourage engaged learning. These aims have been preserved and refined in dozens of other service-learning courses throughout the University. The College of Liberal Arts also offers a unique Social Entrepreneurship major, which integrates extensive periods of public and community service into a multi-disciplinary concentration for students interested in public service or nonprofit careers.
"Service-learning," as a theoretical concept in academic practice, was first introduced in 1979 to describe student community service that is designed to help meet the learning objectives of an academic course while also helping to meet an identified community need. This reciprocity—hands-on skills and civic insight for students, objective value for the community—is the hallmark of genuine service-learning at Mercer. No matter what major or career interest a Mercer student is pursuing, there is a service-learning class that can make the learning more relevant and the results more valuable.
Mary Alice Morgan
Senior Vice Provost for Service Learning