Introduction to the Labor Program

The Berea College Labor Program originated in its earliest form in1859 and expanded to become one of the College's Great Commitments. The Labor Program provides economic, educational, social, personal, and spiritual benefits to students and those served by their work. From its earliest days, Berea has enabled students to contribute to their cost of education while gaining valuable work experience and serving the College and surrounding communities. Historically it also allowed the College to operate in a self-sustaining manner, with students growing their food and building their own living and learning facilities. As society has changed, the nature of the work has changed; however, the program's underlying principles have remained constant through the years.

The Labor Program originated in 1859 and was formalized into every student's educational experience in 1906 when the Berea College Catalog declared that every student must contribute at least seven hours per week to the necessary work of the College. Thiswas raised to ten hours in 1917, a requirement that remains in effect today.

The value of student work is reinforced in our Great Commitments, first published in 1969 by the General Faculty and the Board of Trustees (revised in 1993 and most recently in 2017). This affirmsBerea's commitment "To promote learning and serving in community through the student Labor Program, honoring the dignity and utility of all work, mental and manual, and taking pride in work well done." The Labor Program has long been integral to Berea's educational program and provides valuable opportunities for learning, service, and work well done.