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Swearer Center for Public Service

The Swearer Center for Public Service is a community of scholars, students, practitioners, and community members that works together to build on community strengths and address community challenges. Each year, we catalyze learning for more than 1,200 students, to ensure that students leave Brown University with the knowledge, skills, and commitments necessary to create a more socially just and sustainable world. We achieve this by facilitating and supporting multiple courses, fellowships, programs, and projects that provide direct and indirect service to marginalized populations. Students commit anywhere from one semester to four years, providing direct service, conducting community-engaged research, enrolling in community-engaged courses, advocating policy changes, partnering with faculty on curriculum design and implementation, organizing and advising their peers, and more.

We build capacity and community among faculty, graduate students, and staff interested in engaged teaching and research through communities of practice, consultations, funding, partnership development, and programming collaborations with other units on campus. This helps us center community knowledge as a critical driver of understanding and working toward social justice.

The Swearer Center is located at 2 Stimson Avenue; it also has a satellite location, called the Fidler Family Campus/Community Center, at 339 Eddy Street in Providence’s Jewelry District.

Some of the Swearer Center’s signature programs include:

  • The Bonner Community Fellowship is part of a national network of Bonner programs that aims to combine a student’s community engagement with their academic and career goals. Bonner Community Fellows are committed to working in a sustained, intentional, and intensive way with a community partner that works to address issues in one of five focus areas: Education, Healthcare, Environment, Economic Justice, and the Arts. Together with community partners, fellows strive to build socially just communities where people have the resources they need to reach their full potential.
  • The Engaged Scholarship Certificate (ESC), sponsored by the Sociology Department with the Swearer Center, allows students to investigate public, civic, and/or social justice issues that they are passionate about through the integration of academic study with community-based learning, research, and action. Students pursuing the ESC engage in intensive interdisciplinary inquiry into the issue that they define as the focus of their certificate experience, coupled with direct engagement with communities, organizations, and practitioners outside of the academy.
  • The Laidlaw Scholars Leadership and Research Program is an innovative scholarship that aims to develop a new generation of leaders who are skilled researchers, embrace data-based decision making, and believe it is a moral imperative to lead with integrity. It invests in talented and motivated undergraduate students giving them the knowledge, skills, and experience to become active global citizens and future leaders.
  • The Social Innovation Fellowship provides meaningful community engagement and social innovation experiences for undergraduate students. Focusing on local partnerships and social impacts through the lens of innovation, this two-year developmental program offers students the opportunity to explore modes of social innovation and the tools required for starting successful ventures or for making transformational changes within existing organizations. Additionally, students’ work enhances the ability of nonprofit community organizations to use student talent effectively helping build organizational capacity while exploring ideas within the local social innovation ecosystem.

Contact Information:
Swearer Center for Public Service
Box 1974
2 Stimson Avenue
Providence, RI 02912
Phone (401) 863-2338
Fax (401) 863-3094