Currently Browsing: Social Entrepreneurship and Service-Learning

New Belmont Students Continue Tradition of Service

Serve-105Following a thankful message from  Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and a charge to find their purposes through service from Belmont President Bob Fisher, students in Belmont’s Class of 2018 along with transfers students volunteered throughout Nashville through the University’s annual SERVE Project on Monday afternoon.

“This event has been going on at Belmont for at least 15 years. It’s so Belmont when our students go out into the community and serve. What I hope for you and for our community is that it will trigger an ongoing quest in you to find what you are uniquely made to do to serve others,” Fisher told 1,750 students before they departed campus for 13 sites across the city, including three Metro Nashville Public Schools and nonprofit organizations like Preston Taylor Ministries.

An annual “Welcome Week” tradition for more than a decade, SERVE provides a perfect tie-in to Belmont’s ongoing commitment to engage students in their community and encourage the values of service on both a local and global level.

“I am very pleased to be here and welcome you. You are all geared to serve our city,” said Dean. “Tennessee is the volunteer state, and Belmont and the city of Nashville have a strong tradition in giving back. When you go out and volunteer, please know that we appreciate that. There is nothing more valuable you can do in college than to get involved and understand how the city works.”

In West Nashville, 20 students sorted and bundled school supplies for LP PENCIL Box, a nonprofit organization that allows Metro school teachers to pick out $600 worth of pencils, rulers, backpacks, highlighters and other supplies every year. Program Manager Kerry Conley said 72.4 percent of Metro students live at or below the poverty line and are unable to purchase their own supplies, so often times Metro teachers spend $500 of their personal funds to help their students. (more…)

Students ‘Cultivate’ Produce for Belmont Community

cultivate garden -0103-LWhen Associate Dean for Performance Studies Jeff Kirk left campus Thursday afternoon, he drove by Compton Avenue where students handed him a crate of spinach, squash and lettuce, which his wife used to make lettuce wraps for dinner.

“I am sure happy I did. I am happy to know we can get fresh, organic vegetables once a week, and the price is much cheaper than the grocery store,” Kirk said. “This is another way Belmont is taking care of us and the community as well.”

This summer junior Brett Wisse and senior Johnathan West revived Belmont’s garden through Enactus, an organization that brings together student, academic and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. Wisse and West have invested $2,000 building eight raised beds and an aqua pond to start new crops in the garden, which they have named Cultivate.

Although the garden has been on Belmont’s campus for several years, it hasn’t consistently produced a harvest as students graduate and leave campus for the summer. The garden was born in 2008 when Chemistry Professor Kimberlee Daus’ honors analytics class did chemistry tests on soil in a vacant lot and researched what types of plants would grow there. A first-year seminar class built rock beds and did initial planting in 2009. Two years later, the University formed a partnership with the Dismas House, and students in Adjunct Instructor Charmion Gustke’s first-year service learning and English 1010 classes used their harvests to supplement the meals of former prisoners transitioning back into society. (more…)

Belmont Continues ‘Read with Me’ Tradition with Family Literacy Day

FamilyLiteracyDay-034-LSome 145 Belmont students read to Nashville children during the 14th Annual Family Literacy Day on April 12 at Rose Park. The event was designed to allow the Belmont community to partner with Nashvillians to encourage reading and literacy among elementary-age children and their families.

“It is a great privilege for Belmont to celebrate the great work that goes on all year long by joining with Metro Nashville Public Schools, the Nashville Public Library, Metro Parks, Book’em, PENCIL Foundation and Homework Hotline to provide Family Literacy Day to the community,” said Belmont Director of Service-Learning Tim Stewart. “We are grateful for the opportunities the community provides our students and view Family Literacy Day as a small but hopefully significant way to say ‘thank you.’”

During the free celebration on reading, children enjoyed interactive story times, crafts, face painting, games and refreshments. In reading circles, hosted by Belmont student organizations such as the foreign language majors, the children listened to students read aloud and earned stickers to trade in for prizes and books donated by Book’em.

In the weeks prior to the event, first through fourth-grade studenFamilyLiteracyDay-017-Lts were invited to submit 12 to 16-line poems about their favorite literature. From 118 entries, the Belmont English Club selected five finalists, and the top five poets worked with local professional songwriters Seth Alley, Sherrié Austin, Maddie Larkin, Bill McDermott and Will Rambeaux to set their poems to music. More than 5,000 votes were cast online in the poetry contest, and the winner was “The Girl Who Thinks She Can” by Arieanna Rushing, a fourth-grade student at Sylvan Park Elementary. Click here to listen to the winning song and the other finalists.

Belmont University Celebrates MLK Day with Two Weeks of Special Events

MLK candle

Staff, faculty and students gather during the MLK Candlelight Vigil around the Bell Tower.

Belmont, TSU, Trevecca students join together for MLK Day of Service on Jan. 18

 In celebration of the Jan. 15 anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth date, Belmont University will hold two weeks of special events. The University’s theme for 2014 is “Postracial: The Problem of the Color Line in the 21st Century.” The University’s commitment to Martin Luther King Jr. Week through classroom and special events began in 1997 and continues to grow today. New this year are showings of documentaries  related to Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.

“In recent years, there has been a great deal of talk about whether or not we live in a so-called ‘post-racial’ society. In order to explore more fully this controversial idea, the committee this year thought it best to look to the past for inspiration. In that spirit, we chose as our theme, ‘Postracial: The Problem of the Color Line in the 21st Century,’ an homage to W.E.B. DuBois’ famous pronouncement, written well over a century ago, that ‘the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line,’” said Peter Kuryla, assistant professor of history and chairman of Belmont’s 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee. “So recalling DuBois and in keeping with Dr. King’s prophetic social vision, we’ve put together programming that addresses this issue of the color line from a variety of perspectives. We look forward to a campus-wide conversation.” (more…)

Belmont Celebrates Annual Humanities Symposium Sept. 22-30

Humanities_Symposium_Logo_13Students ‘encounter others’ through panel discussions, writing workshops, lectures, service

 Belmont University hosts its 12th annual Humanities Symposium next week, featuring authors, poets, researchers, philosophers and professors from across the country.

Centered on the theme “Encountering Otherness,” the Belmont 2013 Humanities Symposium will occur Sept. 22 through 30 and parallels the 2013-14 University theme of “Through the Eyes of Others.” The Humanities Symposium seeks to stimulate intellectual conversation through its 31 events, which together will engage in a week-long conversation designed to increase interactions with different cultures, religions, political views and historical understandings to dislodge the default view and open students to broader understanding.

“We have scheduled what might be the most diverse group of speakers we’ve ever had for the 2013 Humanities Symposium, so we are very excited to share the work of our presenters with the Belmont community. We are proud of the fact that we have developed such a wide variety of events as well,” said Associate Professor of English Cynthia Cox, who is chairing the symposium. “In addition to many panels and lectures, this year’s symposium offers two writing workshops, an art exhibit showcasing the paintings of Belmont staff member Tam Mai, a Teaching Center luncheon, an open discussion of relevant philosophical questions, and a day of community service projects coordinated by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of Service Learning.”

Among the notable events are a 90-minute poetry reading by CantoMundo Fellow Eduardo C. Corral, a session on using networking opportunities to learn with Peabody College’s Dr. Kevin Leander, a lecture on race by Duquesne University’s Dr. George Yancy, a lecture on  using empathy to understand others with Ohio State University’s Dr. Amy Shuman, a talk about Native American history and spirituality with University of Denver Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health Research Office Director CeCe Big Crow and a discussion on illegal immigration with Vanderbilt University’s Dr. Robert Barsky. All events are free and open to the public. For more information and to view the full program of events, visit

This year the Humanities Symposium also includes six community service projects across Nashville for approximately 120 Belmont students, faculty and staff to practice the theme of encountering otherness from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 28. Opportunities include working at building fences for outdoor dogs through Music City Hounds Unbound, creating crafts and playing board games with senior citizens at Morningside of Belmont Assisted Living and gardening with homeless women at the Women’s Center of Nashville Rescue Mission.

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