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Bunting Center for Engaged Study and Community Action

Bunting Center for Engaged Study and Community Action

Bunting Center for Engaged Study and Community Action


“The purpose of education is to make the world a better place.”

Philosopher John Dewey’s insight on the intersection of education and community frames the work of the Bunting Center for Engaged Study and Community Action. Home of the College’s service-learning program, the Bunting Center sponsors a range of opportunities for students to learn through service, enriching their college experience by exploring and engaging in the community outside the gates.

Key Bunting Center programs include:

  • Ongoing community partnerships with service agencies in Birmingham that address a range of needs.
  • Annual Exploration Term projects and alternative springs breaks that offer intensive service experiences in diverse settings.
  • Classes in multiple disciplines that integrate service into the curriculum.
  • Other opportunities such as Outreach Days, clothing and meal card drives, and voter registration initiatives. Check out the links to the left to learn more about how you can get involved.

For additional information, please contact a Bunting Center staff member or visit the Bunting Center in the Engaged Programs Suite, which is on the second floor of Norton Campus Center just around the corner from Student Development.


    About the Bunting Center

    The Bunting Center is named in honor of BSC alumni Dr. Peter and Derry Bunting, whose generous donation supports the College’s service-learning program. Dr. Peter and Derry Bunting with student liaisons.Thanks to Dr. and Mrs. Bunting’s commitment to the ethical and intellectual growth of BSC students, the Bunting Center is able to offer a range of opportunities for students to become active, engaged citizens.

    A student focused office, the Bunting Center seeks to help students learn in the context of our local community. Each year, hundreds of BSC students engage in service-learning, with experiences ranging from volunteering for community outreach days to participating in Exploration Term projects to assuming leadership positions as liaisons with partner agencies. At its best, the Bunting Center functions as a connector between the College and the community, facilitating mutually beneficial learning experiences.

    Pictured at right: Dr. Peter and Derry Bunting with student liaisons.


    Mission Statement

    bunting logo

    The mission of the Bunting Center is to promote active civic engagement by encouraging and supporting collaborative service-learning projects with local, national, and international community partners. Service-learning combines academic study, work in and with the community, and intentional reflection on the experience. The essential question posed by the Bunting Center is: How do we develop the best combination of knowledge, skills, and values that will make a positive difference in our communities?

    The Bunting Center for provides opportunities for the campus community to:

    • engage in the community beyond the gate
    • recognize and challenge assumptions
    • practice interacting across cultures
    • reconsider ways of knowing and sources of knowledge
    • understand and practice civic involvement
    • channel personal and academic interests to address community-identified needs
    • act to recognize and correct injustice
    • prepare for lives of active citizenship

    What is Service-Learning?

    Service-learning unites academic study with community action. Formal study provides a context for service experiences, which in turn enrich formal classroom learning. By combining the accomplishment of a public task with a defined educational goal, service-learning pushes students to be more than just volunteers. Service-learning students search for systemic solutions to social problems, vote responsibly, engage in advocacy campaigns, and consume resources responsibly and ethically. Service is a vehicle and a reminder for us to hold ourselves accountable for all the choices we make because they affect our local, national, and global communities.

    Expand your learning and put it into action: See and experience concepts you've learned about in the classroom in the context of the “real world.” Learn how to use your knowledge to make changes.

    Broaden your horizons and perspectives: Put yourself in contact with those who have experienced life differently from you. Listen to their stories and learn from them.

    Make new friends and alliances: See who shares your interests; meet and get to know people from other communities and organizations.

    Learn practical skills: Improve your tutoring skills, enhance your foreign-language proficiency with native speakers, build and paint houses, and learn to communicate with people from every background.

    Challenge yourself, your abilities, and your attitudes: Push yourself physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Reconsider your preconceptions.


    Bunting Center Staff

    Kristin Harper

    (205) 226-4720
    Norton 263

    Emily Thornton

    Assistant Director of Community Partnerships

    (205) 226-4993 
    Norton 265



    Bonner Leader Program

    Sponsored by the Bunting Center for Engaged Study and Community Action and the Hess Center for Leadership and Service

    Birmingham-Southern College has a strong commitment to community engagement. Students have participated actively in local, national, and international community projects coordinated through the Bunting Center and the Hess Center for nearly 30 years. Beginning in 2015, we are launching a Bonner Leaders Program at BSC.

    The Bonner Leaders Program is a leadership development program for students who are committed to community and civic engagement. The program provides students an opportunity to create lasting impact in their community through leadership and excellence in service. The Bonner Leaders Program will offer you a chance to work in a community-based organization and to experience a wide array of enrichment activities that will enhance your college experience and help you grow as a person.

    All first-year students with an interest in community engagement are invited to apply. However,incoming students who have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be given priority.

    The deadline for applications to the Bonner Leader Program is February 1st.

    Click here to apply.

    Contact Emily Thornton ( or Tim Emahiser ( with any questions.

    Bonner Leaders at BSC agree to the following commitments:

    • Serve 8-10 hours per week
      • (Including on-site service, weekly meetings, and professional development)
    • Attend weekly meetings
    • Complete the Distinction in Leadership Studies Program
    • Be a full time student and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA
    • Attend Bonner orientation and a Fall Break retreat in the Fall semester
    • Make community engagement a priority for your time at BSC

    Benefits of the Bonner Leaders Program:

    • Connections with the national Bonner network
    • $1000 merit scholarship
    • Work study funds up to $1500 for community engagement work
    • Priority for Alternative Spring Break projects
    • Leadership development
    • Opportunity to attend conferences and training retreats