City Serve Offers Off-Campus Study Experience Close to Home

File Under: Hands On Learning

Malone students have long been able to study abroad in places like Italy, Ecuador, and South Korea.

Elizabeth Patterson Roe, Ph. D., director of the Center for Intercultural Studies and professor of social work, is excited about a new offering to the plethora of off-campus semester experiences a bit closer to home. 

“The new program is called City Serve, and it involves a particular view of ministry in which one lives and serves in a community with those who are often different from oneself. Students don’t need to go across an ocean to have an impactful study away experience, they can do it right in their backyard,” said Roe. “In this new program, we have sites in both Akron and Canton with partner organizations where students will live for a two-semester period.”

Partnering with South Street Ministries in Akron and Lighthouse Ministries in Canton, Roe hopes to provide Malone students interested in local service with unique and beneficial opportunities to become ingrained in a local community.  

“I am involved in intentional Christian community development in Summit Lake in Akron, and we’ve organically had young people, including several Malone graduates, come to live missionally in our community. The experience is powerful and transformative, and we wanted a local opportunity that students can take advantage of,” said Roe. 

This new study opportunity will also work in conjunction with Malone’s recently launched Urban Studies program. 

“We started an urban studies program, and it’s organized in conjunction with the Akron Leadership Foundation to include a certificate of urban leadership,” said Roe. “That certificate was started by Bryson Davis, assistant professor of sociology and criminal & restorative justice, and Pastor Duane Crabbs, and it allows our students to take classes with members of our local communities who are different ages, demographics, and professions.”

The City Serve program is one more way that students can incorporate these classes into their course load while living missionally. 

“This opportunity also helps students identify their community of practice. There is a service requirement that coincides with this program, but it works around the students’ existing obligations. While they live on site in either Akron or Canton, they can connect where their heart of service is with their major coursework,” said Roe. “The idea is to have students integrate into a community, going about their lives while discipling and being discipled.” 

Students will have a certain amount of hours each week in which they will form natural relationships with the members of their community, through activities like attending church locally or forming relationships with their neighbors. 

“The ultimate goal is for students to grow through this program of discipleship. We are investing in the long term impact that these students will have on their future communities.”

City Serve is not limited to just intercultural studies or social work majors. The opportunity to live and serve is open to all because all students can be a part of Malone’s mission.

“We encourage an urban studies minor or double major, but it’s certainly not required. We want to do our best to make sure that any internships or volunteer work that students have during their time in this program will overlap with the community they’re living in as well as their area of study,” said Roe. “If students want to serve Church, community, and world, we want to connect them with their vocational calling to serve in a meaningful way. Through these immersive experiences where students are putting themselves in a cross-cultural setting, as well as where they get to apply and practice the skills they are learning in their coursework, our students will become more equipped to live in a diverse and multicultural world that is right in our own backyard.”

Interested students can find out more about this program by emailing Dr. Roe at or by visiting the City Serve webpage here