Three students stand outdoors by a colorful wall.
Center for Engaged Liberal Arts

Bonner Center

Community-Engaged Learning, Teaching, & Research

Oberlin students gather at the local library before traveling to Kenya, where they will lead the Kenya Reads literacy initiative.
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones

The Bonner Center is Oberlin’s hub for connecting the classroom to communities engaged in social change and public service.

We support students, faculty, and staff to partner with organizations, both local and global, on projects of mutual interest that serve the public good. Our partners include non-profit, public sector, and non-governmental organizations in a range of fields, from the arts and public humanities to food and nutrition security, education, environmental sustainability, global health, and more.

Aligning community-identified needs and interests with student and faculty learning goals, our opportunities include off-campus employment, internships, winter term projects, and community-based research. Our namesake program, Oberlin’s Bonner Scholars, is a highly selective service scholarship, but the Bonner Center serves all students, faculty, and staff.

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Learn how community-engaged learning can help you shape your Oberlin education.

Oberlin’s Bonner Scholars

The Bonner Scholars Program provides underrepresented and first-generation students with a four-year community service scholarship. Offered by Oberlin College in collaboration with the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation, this program supports students who are committed to community service by helping them develop as leaders and change agents in the local community and beyond.

Learn how to apply for Oberlin’s Bonner Scholarship

A group of ten students, each wearing a stole that reads Oberlin College Bonner Scholar.

Each year, 60 Bonner Scholars engage in capacity-building service projects with organizations around the world.

Photo credit: Yevhen Gulenko

Community-Based Learning in the Curriculum

Community-Based Learning (CBL) courses build deep connections between the classroom and the community. Faculty at Oberlin teach over 40 CBL courses each year.

Philosophy in the Schools Practicum


In this community-based course, students lead philosophical discussions with elementary school children. The program helps to build essential reasoning skills at an early age while allowing Oberlin students to bring philosophy out in the world.

Students in class.

Practicum in K-12 Course Design

LEAD 230

In this community-based learning course, students work with a local teacher to read, review, and recommend books to support curriculum areas and incorporate into unit plans. Students will learn effective strategies in unit and lesson planning, creation of activities and assessment strategies encompassing multiple modalities.

Students speaking to a group of children outdoors.

Africatown Immersion

ENVS 330

This course introduces students to community-based learning and research in the historic community of Africatown, Alabama. Students will spend fall break in Africatown collaborating with grassroots community organizations. All students will contribute to presentations of research projects to local organizations.

Major Joe Womack and Oberlin College students.

Latinx Oral Histories

CAST 335

This advanced course introduces students to the importance of oral histories in ethnographic research as a foundation to explore the histories and contemporary experiences of Latinx communities in Lorain and Northeast Ohio. We will collaborate with community partners in collecting oral histories and locate these histories in a broader historical and political-economic context.

Four students in class, smiling.

From the Classroom to the World

The passion for knowledge drives an Oberlin education. The Bonner Center extends academic engagement and service to communities near and far.

Aerial view of intersecting paths in a campus quad.

Resource Links

Resources for Students

From grants to community-based work-study, find an opportunity that works for you.

Resources for Community Partners

Does your non-profit organization (501 C3) or registered NGO have an interest in recruiting Oberlin College & Conservatory student interns, volunteers, or employees? Reach out!

Resources for Faculty

Explore faculty resources and connections for community-based learning and research.

Next Steps

An Oberlin education puts the liberal arts to work in achieving a life of meaning and purpose.

A group of students plants a garden in front of a house.
Photo credit: Dale Preston ’83