In 1855, Kentucky abolitionist John G. Fee founded Berea College, the first interracial and co-educational college in the South. Today, the College provides a high-quality, low-cost, liberal arts education to students with great promise but limited economic resources. Based on the College’s inclusive scriptural foundation and motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” Berea is committed to promoting understanding and kinship among all people, service to communities in Appalachia and beyond, and sustainable living practices that set an example of new ways to conserve our limited natural resources.
For more than 150 years, Berea College has provided students a tuition-free education. Every student receives a full tuition scholarship and earns a portion of their expenses through work in the college’s Labor Program. With high academic standards, more than 30 degree programs, and professors who are exceptional teachers, scholars and mentors, Berea is widely recognized as one of the finest liberal arts colleges in the country. Today, Berea continues its unique mission of providing service-oriented leaders for Appalachia and beyond through a firm commitment to learning, labor and service.
In 1997, Berea College joined the Shepherd Alliance, now the Shepherd Internship Program, which allows students to live for eight weeks in cities across the United States that are diverse to their own backgrounds in order to learn and do service. Because acceptance into the program is competitive, interviews are conducted to find those students who possess the leadership and skills necessary for the program. Although the experience is challenging, academically rigorous and pushes students out of their own comfort zones, it is one that often creates lifelong memories and experiences. Berea students are expected to keep a thorough journal of their experiences and present when they return to campus. While service and learning are important parts of the program, it also gives students useful job training and experience to help them in their future careers. The Shepherd Program is a positive demonstration of Berea College’s “Learning, Labor and Service” motto.
Berea offers a variety of courses across the curriculum with emphasis on poverty and human capability, including “Contemporary Issues in Family Poverty,” an interdisciplinary exploration of causes and consequences of poverty on families. We are developing a minor or emphasis in poverty from existing courses and the summer internship, and many Berea students are involved in service programs that help the local community.
Katrina Rivers Thompson, Ph.D.
Chairperson and Professor of Child and Family Studies
Jill Bouma, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Sociology
Director of Internships, Co-Director of the Center for Transformative Learning