What We Do


The Key Center for Community Engaged Learning was founded by a grant from Adelaide Worth Daniels Key to promote community citizenship and service learning on the UNC Asheville campus.

Service learning and community engagement are core values that are woven into the culture of UNC Asheville. Community engagement is required for completion of several majors as well as for membership in many student organizations and is a key strategic focus for the University itself.

The Key Center is the primary hub for service learning and community engagement on campus. We emphasize the creation of sustainable and mutually beneficial partnerships between instructors, student organizations, and community partners, as well as provide resources, support, and facilitation that allow students to undertake meaningful service learning and community engagement activities that are responsive to the community's needs and strengths.

Our Mission

The Key Center connects community partners, students, staff and faculty for mutually beneficial partnerships, reciprocal learning and meaningful impact.

Through a wide range of organized and coordinated Key Center programs, UNC Asheville actively carries out its mission with the belief that the educational environment exists both inside and outside the classroom and that the complex and systemic issues of the contemporary and global world are best understood by actively and intentionally engaging them. Through guided and critical reflection, participants are able to contextualize their experiences, relate to them and articulate their learning.

Our Vision

The UNC Asheville community will engage with the larger community of which the University is an inherent part through initiatives that help all participants venture beyond disciplinary boundaries and cultural differences in their work, their play, their study and their world.

Our Core Values

The Key Center is committed to the values of community engagement, experiential education and critical reflection.

As defined by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, community engagement is understood to mean “the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity”. As stated by the National Association of Experiential Education, experiential education refers the philosophy whereby “educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people's capacity to contribute to their communities”. Critical reflection refers to the intentional and cyclical process of exploring an experience by examining the values and assumptions brought to it, the learning that takes place as a result and how that understanding impacts the ways that future experiences are engaged.