“The great end of life is not knowledge but action.” The words of Thomas Henry Huxley embody the belief of the University Fellows, those individuals who strive to see knowledge turned to action for the good of our communities. Black Belt Experience, the signature Fellows project, creates an opportunity for students to explore the various issues affecting poverty in the Black Belt and to partner with individuals in Marion, Perry County, Alabama to create systemic change. Students are servant leaders and change agents who create projects that both respond to the needs of the community and capitalize on the students’ particular interests, gifts, and abilities in preparation for lifelong civic action.

The University Fellows’ inaugural Black Belt Experience was May 2009. Since that time, the Honors College has developed significant community partnerships and seen these grow into integral relationships that both provide ongoing opportunity for meaningful service learning for our students and provide fresh energy and perspective to many challenges expressed by member of the Marion community. The continued work with specific partners such as the local public elementary, middle and high schools, the Perry County Chamber of Commerce, the Marion-Perry County Library, and the local nonprofit Sowing Seeds of Hope enable a more promising future: sustainable projects that see educational growth, economic development, health and nutrition improvement, and greater community interaction.

Black Belt Action is a week-long service-learning program designed to provide approximately 30 incoming freshmen a focused, transformative experience in Alabama’s Black Belt region. Named originally for its dark, fertile soil, the Black Belt is a strand of 14 counties that stretches across the Heart of Alabama – a region rich with historical significance, unique culture, and vibrant people.

Students will work to make an immediate positive impact in the community by working in Marion, AL. Participants will explore the elements of ‘community’ and the implications of systemic poverty through discussion with local leaders, group reflection, and application of selected readings to their experience. Throughout the week, Black Belt Action participants will also have opportunities to acclimate to campus life and familiarize themselves with Tuscaloosa.

Honors Action 2017 begins Sunday, August 17th, 2017, and concludes Friday, August 18th, 2017. Participants will move into their residence halls prior to beginning the programs, at a time designated by the UA Office of Housing and Residential Communities.

To apply for one of the Honors Action programs, one must:

  • Be an incoming UA freshman
  • Be accepted into the Honors College
  • Submit the online application, including the signed Liability Release (AA,OABA) and the approximately $195 deposit

The Honors Action deposit is non-refundable. If an applicant does not enroll in any Honors Action course, the money will be credited towards any outstanding balance on the student’s UA receivables account.

More information about the application process will be available in the early spring.

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