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.

Our Mission

The Key Center for Community Engaged Learning is the hub of community engagement at UNC Asheville. We aim to connect students, faculty, staff, and community partners in meaningful and transformative relationships that strengthen communities and address societal needs. The Key Center is centered on student learning both inside and outside the classroom, providing opportunities to support students as they develop as scholars, leaders, and active citizens.

Cultural humility, social responsibility, and sustainability are at the core of the Key Center’s philosophy regarding all aspects of community engaged work. Service experiences, community based research, service learning courses, and educational programs coordinated through and supported by the Key Center offer opportunities for students to build authentic relationships, broaden their perspective, develop critical thinking strategies and other transferable skills, and explore their life purpose.

Our Core Values

The Key Center is committed to the values of social responsibility, personal growth, and connection to community.

Social Responsibility: The Key Center provides educational resources and engagement opportunities to help develop aspiring active citizens who are accountable for their actions and understand their obligation in creating a just and sustainable future for all.
Growth: The Key Center fosters personal growth, intentional education, and critical analysis to understand social issues and work toward equity through experiential learning opportunitites and reflection.
Connection to community: Through leadership development, service learning opportunities, and reciprocal relationships, the Key Center connects students to each other and the local and global community in an effort to build cross-cultural understanding.

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.