For Stephanie Bardwell, a commitment to community engagement is more than part of her job, it is fundamental to who she is. Bardwell teaches a host of courses in the Luter School of Business, from business law to nonprofits and small business, but her real passion is advising and assisting students with service-learning projects. She co-directs the minor in civic engagement and social entrepreneurship, an interdisciplinary program for students interested in issues ranging from social and political justice and business and economic opportunity to health care and the arts. Through study and service students seek innovative solutions to contemporary problems.
By partnering with local nonprofits in a real-world consulting relationship, students offer these often underfunded and understaffed organizations the knowledge and skills they have learned in the classroom. “CNU is a remarkable center for teaching, scholarship and outreach with a sense of compassion and creativity that is appealing and inspiring,” Bardwell says. Student projects have included service to a wide array of organizations, from historical and environmental programs to shelters for victims of domestic violence and inner city youth mentorship. Through these partnerships, students are able to make a tangible and lasting impact in the community.
"Service elevates the soul,” says Bardwell. “It satisfies an elemental need to connect with a greater good, a purpose that is beneficial and creative and caring. “Service may be the ideal way to express a shared humanity and kindness. It might be the perfect lifelong activity, and may also satisfy an inner duty to our environment and fellow humans in this complicated world.”