Higher learning brings with it the expectation of ethical and honorable behavior and acceptance of the notion that the privileges of education carry responsibility. Sewanee is committed to nourishing mind, body and spirit, while fostering a respect for the dignity and empowerment of others and a reverent concern for the world. As always, a good place to begin fostering respect for the dignity and empowerment of others is to face the challenge of these ideals wherever we find ourselves. Thus, although Sewanee’s Community Engaged Learning (CEL) projects begin within the neighboring three-county area, it extends outward to include community partners throughout the United States and the world. Sewanee’s CEL project incorporates a notion of community engagement and rests on a commitment to the practice of faculty, students, and community partners, being engaged in community-based dialogue, problem solving, and personal engagement informed by academic study and personal reflection. Pursued in this way, community engagement encourages self-knowledge, a deepened understanding of place and increased intellectual development. Moreover, community engagement in an academic setting, whether connected with service projects or local dialogue and research, helps prepare students for full participation in a complex democratic society by fostering a sense of civic responsibility, encouraging the exploration of self-identity, vocational discernment, while promoting leadership and ethical decision making.
The mission of CEL is founded on Sewanee's core purpose, namely, to enable "students to live with grace, integrity, and a reverent concern for the world." CEL is committed to the broad goals of enabling students to see themselves as an integral force in contributing to just, equitable and sustainable societies. To encourage this development of Sewanee students, CEL supports placebased and experiential learning through cross-disciplinary initiatives, faculty-student research, course fieldtrips and co-curricular activities, community service and structured reflection. CEL also seeks to open a dialogue on campus about innovative pedagogies and encourages the accumulation of resources to support faculty in their pursuit to develop community-engaged learning in a rigorous academic setting.
In achieving its core goals, CEL has partnered with University Outreach to offer substantive opportunities for community engagement and service tied to academic scholarship. In particular, CEL encourages a range of strategies of community engagement in which a partnership between the University and a community, which, while making common cause with its partners throughout the world, offers students hands-on learning supported by classroom theory that facilitates the development of a sense of reciprocity and mutual respect.