Ten years ago Dr. Barbara Cartledge (Asst Dean and Asst Professor, Brock School of Business, Samford University) and I worked together to create a class experience that would move the students out of their textbooks and campus and immerse them in the community. This class explores the topic of local poverty and business through a Biblical and societal lens. Students read required books about poverty and the marginalized and then visit churches and ministries working within this context to develop a better understanding of Birmingham, the integral differences within the neighborhoods, and the variety of ways churches, ministries, and businesses are working in these communities.

More than 100 students have participated and have been moved by their 3-week experience to engage with the community in a more meaningful way. This year, we had 17 and we visited 4 organizations and many more organizations came on campus to educate and inform students how to invest in our city. Over the years, the course has received very positive feedback and has challenged and changed participants futures.

Letters from Samford students to Tracy

“The class was the best class I have taken in my three years at Samford. This course is extremely touching and takes a different approach to the classroom. This class opened my eyes to the community around me and changed my life for the better.”

“This course allows students to view poverty with a Christian lens while also seeing how business affects people within less fortunate communities. Through this Christian lens, it put my plans moving forward in a deeper perspective and draws greater interest to the non-profit sector.”

This is the coolest course that I’ve taken at Samford. I love that we got to go out into the community and experience what we read in the books. Honestly, I think this course should be required for everyone at Samford, definitely my favorite class by far.”

“I might take this course even if did not count for any credits. It is informative on poverty and it gives each student an excellent overview of the network of ministries of Birmingham.”

Samford University has deep roots in our city, beginning as Howard College in East Lake. Many years ago it moved to its current location but has continued to work hard to invest back into the city, like providing this class. We also work with Samford through internships, service projects, class projects, the Masters of Social Work program, Beeson Divinity students, and in the field of health, dietetics, and nutrition. It is important that we invest in the future generation, learning together, how to better love our God and serve our community.

To read more about this class visit this article from Samford and paper by Dr. Cartledge and Dr. Carson.