President to instruct spring course on service in underserved communities

Those familiar with the communities surrounding Campbell University are aware that Campbell functions much like an island — an institution associated with progress and accomplishment surrounded by communities that are largely underserved and struggling to flourish.

It is these communities that will hold the focus of an upcoming honors-interdisciplinary course taught next semester instructed by Campbell President J. Bradley Creed.

The course, titled “Discovering Underserved Communities,” begs the question: What are underserved communities? According to Creed, these communities are often overlooked due to the growing focus on metropolitan areas.

“They are underserved with economic progress, primary health care resources, and with amenities that allow communities to flourish,” he said.

Creed explained that the inspiration for the course stemmed from the obvious opportunities in the community surrounding Campbell, which is rapidly growing and changing. In addition, the course was largely influenced by a course Creed participated in at Texas A&M, which focused on rural social science. Students enrolled in the course were recommended by advisors and participated in an application process before being selected for the class.

Glenn Jonas, the director of the Honors Program, explained that the program looked for students who, in addition to being academically successful, were “interested in service and seemed to be working towards a vocation that would lead them to serve communities.”

The class will meet once a week and require students to “adopt” a community for analysis and will culminate with a project about what they have learned. Students will look at the community from a variety of perspectives, such as healthcare, culture, education, economy and religion. In addition to the project, the class will consist of readings, discussions, guest-speakers and an online component that will be taught by a graduate student from Baylor University who helped in the development of the classes curriculum.

When asked about the importance of the course, Jonas and Creed both emphasized the importance of service and perspective.

“We learn by serving others,” Jonas explained, “this course is about learning the perspective of others and being able to reflect on others and grow outside of [their] circle of friends.”

Creed added that the importance of the class lies in the fact that “Campbell makes its greatest contributions through its students.” The course is about preparing Campbell’s students to be leaders, regardless of the vocation or community they land in. Creed stated that he wants students in the course to grow their “sense of civic responsibility. We want them to add to social capital.”

The future of the program, according to Creed, is bright. He envisions the course being taught next semester as the first of three possible courses that students could take as a sequence. He even hinted at the possibility of an eventual minor program in rural social science.

Regardless of the future of the program, Creed firmly believes that Campbell has “had a history of preparing people that were leaders,” and that this program “is a small step” in continuing that legacy.

— Leah Tripp is a staff writer for The Campbell Times, Campbell University’s student newspaper