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“For action is the life of all, and if thou dost not act, thou dost nothing."

 - Gerrard Winstanley, "A Watch-Word to the City of London and the Armie" (1649)

A Transformative Experience

Oxford College, in line with Winstanley’s bold statement that “action is the life of all,” is dedicated to academic excellence and our students’ success in ways that extend beyond the classroom. Scholarship involves not just a body of knowledge; it involves a way of life in which seekers of knowledge pursue truth wherever it may be found. Oxford College’s classroom experiences thus include exploration and discovery, where students learn and actively practice inquiry, because knowledge is deepened and made effective through practice. That is why intellectual explorations at Oxford College also often include social responsibility and real-world experiences.

The Pierce Institute for Leadership and Community Engagement is at the heart of these transformational efforts with its commitment to ethics, leadership, and community engagement. The Pierce Service Corps Program and Theory-Practice/Service Learning courses, for example, integrate knowledge with hands-on community experiences. Students also can volunteer for service through the Volunteer Oxford program or Alternative Breaks. Through such activities, Oxford students contributed over 14,000 hours of service in the community during the 2013-2014 academic year.

Opportunities abound for students to become active and effective leaders, including Pierce Institute-sponsored programs such as Experience in Cultivating Excellence in Leaders, Leadership Oxford, and the Pierce Leadership Certificate Program, all of which incorporate the social change model of leadership. Our programs also cultivate student leadership in academics and research. In the Oxford Research Scholars Program and the Summer Undergraduate Research Program, for example, students conduct one-on-one research with an Oxford professor. 

In addition, the Pierce Institute offers global opportunities, such as the Global Connections program, and we help sponsor off-campus courses with our Oxford Scholars Scholarship Program and the Pierce Student Scholarships for Off-Campus Studies. In addition, we bring renowned scholars to campus, whether through the Pierce Lecture Series-including the Leadership Lecture Series, the Chaplain's Lecture Series, and the Theory/Practice/Service Learning Lecture Series-or the Pierce Visiting Scholar Program, run in partnership with the University of Oxford in England.

The 26 Pierce Institute-affiliated programs that integrate academics, leadership, and community engagement are situated within four pillars: leadership, community engagement, global engagement, and the Pierce Program in Religion.

You can stay in touch with the Pierce Institute’s activities by liking us on Facebook (search for “Pierce Institute”) or following us on Twitter (@PierceInst).

David B. Gowler
The Dr. Lovick Pierce and Bishop George F. Pierce Chair of Religion
Director, Pierce Institute for Leadership and Community Engagement,
Oxford College of Emory University
Senior Faculty Fellow, Center for Ethics, Emory University