History, Mission, and Partnerships
While community service has been an integral part of a Denison University education since the 1940s, the establishment of the John W. Alford Center for Service Learning in April 1997 enabled the college to bring under one roof an array of activities related to service learning. Made possible by a generous gift by Mr. Alford, the endowment has enabled us to provide transportation to service learners, to support faculty development, and to assist students and faculty in attending conferences and workshops that advance our shared purposes regarding civic engagement and education.
The Alford Center facilitates opportunities for Denisonians to engage meaningfully in community service and service learning. Through such engagement, we foster the capacity of individuals to understand the origins of problems that face our communities and how education, guided by personal commitment, expands our ability to contribute to the improvement of life in our neighborhoods and the world. Through the activities of the Denison Community Association, America Reads, and Curricular service learning, the Center for Service Learning supports Denison's mission, which begins with these words:
Our purpose is to inspire and educate our students to become autonomous thinkers, discerning moral agents and active citizens of a democratic society. Through an emphasis on active learning, we engage students in the liberal arts, which fosters self-determination and demonstrates the transformative power of education. We envision our students' lives as based upon rational choice, a firm belief in human dignity and compassion unlimited by cultural, racial, sexual, religious or economic barriers, and directed toward an engagement with the central issues of our time.
The Center works closely with many non-profit organizations in Licking County to give Denison students experience with and an understanding of real issues facing our society today. Our partners benefit from the engagement with Denison students, faculty and staff while our students gain skills that enhance the classroom education.