"Labour well the Minute Particulars...He who would do good to another, must do it in Minute Particulars."
- William Blake, Jerusalem Chapter 3, Plate 55, Lines 50, 60
What makes Oxford College transformative for so many of our students? In my view, it is because we, in Blake's words, "Labour well the Minute Particulars" with faculty dedicated to academic excellence and to our students' success. Oxford College's classroom experiences, for example, include exploration and discovery, where students learn and actively practice inquiry, because knowledge is learned, deepened, and made effective through extensive practice.
Blake also reminds us that "doing good" is not an abstract concept. Knowledge is incomplete without concrete action in "minutely organized particulars." So at Oxford College our intellectual explorations also often involve social responsibility, interdisciplinary connections, and real-world experiences.
The Pierce Institute for Leadership and Community Engagement is at the heart of these transformational efforts. The Pierce Institute's transformative experiences include the Bonner Leaders program and Theory-Practice Service-Learning courses, both of which integrate knowledge learned with hands-on experiences in the local community. Students also can volunteer for service in the local community through the Volunteer Oxford program. During 2010-2011 academic year, for example, Oxford students contributed an incredible 15,000 hours of service in the community.
Opportunities abound at Oxford for students to become active and effective leaders, including Pierce Institute sponsored leadership programs such as Experience in Cultivating Excellence in Leaders, Leadership Oxford, and the Student Leadership Certificate Program.
The Pierce Institute also includes programs that cultivate student leadership in academics and research. The Oxford Research Scholars Program and the Summer Undergraduate Research Program, for example, are valuable opportunities for students to work on research projects one-on-one with an Oxford professor.
In addition, Pierce Institute activities entail global opportunities, such as the Global Connections or Journey of Reconciliation programs. We also help to sponsor off-campus courses such as "Social Change in Developing Countries" in Ecuador with the Pierce funded Oxford Scholars Scholarship Program. The Pierce Institute also brings nationally and internationally known scholars to Oxford's campus, whether through the Pierce Lecture Series or the Pierce Visiting Scholar Program run in partnership with the University of Oxford in England.
These programs are just examples of the 25 affiliated programs that make up The Pierce Institute for Leadership and Community Engagement. All of these programs actively promote the integration of academics, leadership, and community engagement. We, as part of Oxford's transformative environment, attend to the "Minute Particulars" necessary for true understanding, leadership, and active engagement in the world. These 25 programs are situated within the four Pierce Institute pillars: Leadership, Community Engagement, Global Engagement, and the Pierce Program in Religion.
I welcome your comments, suggestions, and support for the transformative experiences that the Pierce Institute helps make possible.
David B. Gowler
The Dr. Lovick Pierce and Bishop George F. Pierce Professor of Religion
Director, Pierce Institute for Leadership and Community Engagement,
Oxford College of Emory University
Senior Faculty Fellow, Center for Ethics, Emory University