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ABSTRACT. This paper describes an emerging interdisciplinary model of instructional delivery for first-year students at a regionally-accredited public university located in western North Carolina. This emerging interdisciplinary model is comprised of a pre-semester engagement retreat, a fall and spring community engagement project, and curricular components linked by the common themes of social change and making a difference through one’s vocation and social contributions. Students are exposed to individualized service learning and engagement activities, as well as larger-scale social entrepreneurship concepts via a course by this same title. The emerging model has been branded as the Ripple Effect Learning Community (RELC) and is presented as one that may be transferable to other institutions. When combined with critical reflection, the interdisciplinary nature of the RELC prepares students to identify what they truly love about the world (e.g., a sense of individual spirituality in the vein of Hermann Hesse) and ultimately become empowered change agents themselves. Excerpts of student feedback capturing overarching themes are provided, indicating that the RELC experience has been transformative for many. pp. 1–22

Keywords: service learning; social entrepreneurship; community engagement; higher education

JEL codes: L26; L31; I23

LANE PERRY
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Western Carolina University
ROBERT J. LAHM, JR.
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Western Carolina University
ANNIKA SCHAUER
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Western Carolina University
ZACHARY RUMBLE
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Western Carolina University

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