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CN Bonners: Our Distinctives

Page history last edited by Matt Bryant Cheney 10 years, 12 months ago



So what is especially strong and/or unique about our Bonner Program?  It is our people, our programs, and our paradigm: 

  •   Our students, most of whom come to us with a religious grounding that gives priority to service as a natural and necessary part of one’s life;hopefully we push them beyond their comfort zones, but the fundamental impulse to care and to serve is already there;


  • Our deep connections with the bioregion through our primary community-based partnership organizations serving and empowering the poor, especially Appalachian Outreach and Clearfork Community Institute;


  • Our longstanding relationships with grassroots Appalachian leaders of great wisdom and accomplishment like Marie Cirillo, Bill Nickle, and the staff at the Highlander Center, some of whom serve as Bonner Community Fellows;


  • Our faculty colleagues teaching across the curriculum and in such interdisciplinary areas as social entrepreneurship, women’s studies, environment & community, and conflict & justice studies, who are true believers in the Bonner Program and serve as Bonner Faculty Fellows;


  • Our newly beefed-up set of curricular requirements across all four years of study to help our Bonner Scholars experience the Bonner Student Development Model in head as well as heart;  


  • Our longstanding connections with local schools and after-school programs, working to extend educational access through social/academic mentoring and tutoring programs like the Boys & Girls Club, Students Encouraging Further Education, and the Jefferson City Housing Authority;


  • Our programs to reach across borders of race, belief, nationality, ability, and other differences through such programs as Films for Change, Best Buddies, and Global Outreach


  • Our linking community arts and cultural history with the anti-poverty and anti-racism work we do through such programs as Trinity Performing Arts and the East Tennessee Underground Railroad Festival;


  • Our advocacy for human rights and peace on both the local and global levels through such community organizations as the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance and the Knoxville Interfaith Committee on Conscience & War and such campus initiatives as Women's Studies and Amnesty International;


  • Our commitment to building both a sustainable campus and bioregion through such organizations as Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center, the Mossy Creek Network, C-N Recycles, and Students for Environmental Action;


  • Our developing new options for Bonner service especially for juniors and seniors in public service, policy research & advocacy, voter registration & education, and social entrepreneurship;


  • Our Social Entrepreneurship Incubator that provides a way to support and mentor original and creative social change work of our Bonner students;


  • And perhaps most of all, our distinctive paradigm for service-learning & civic engagement informed by liberation theology, popular education, and the history of struggle and resistance to injustice in developing countries as well as our part of Southern Appalachia.  This paradigm emphasizes an understanding of systems and power, and the essential role social change plays—through community organizing, social entrepreneurship, and policy advocacy—in “helping others” in addition to individual acts of compassion.  It addresses the unintended consequence of charity in perpetuating the status quo by connecting “critical consciousness” with action for social justice.


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