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Carlson Leadership & Public Service Center

About the Carlson Center


The Carlson Leadership & Public Service Center develops service-learning, community-based participatory research, and leadership opportunities for UW students. These partnerships sustain reciprocal learning opportunities, deepen learning, advance civic engagement, and contribute to our greater community.


Edward E. Carlson

The Carlson Center develops and supports programs designed to incorporate academic coursework with community-based learning and leadership. The Center stands firm on the belief that opportunities for learning outside the classroom deepen a student’s understanding of complex, philosophical, economic and political issues and develop a sense of civic responsibility at the University, throughout Seattle and the Northwest and on a global level.

In partnership with UW faculty, the Carlson Center strives to develop curriculum that helps students think critically about issues facing society today and to make these issues personally meaningful, to encourage students to see beyond the immediacy of class schedules and grades.

When students work in a community setting, they are able to put a name and a face to societal problems such as homelessness, workers’ rights issues and environmental degradation. Students begin to define their role in the community in relation to these names and faces; they begin to define their role within the context of public service and civic responsibility.

Carlson Center Focus

The focus of the Carlson Center has been on service learning, working with faculty and students to develop meaningful academic connections with the community. Public service internships and volunteer opportunities are also at the core of the Carlson Center’s work. The last several years have seen an increase in collaboration with other University and community initiatives and departments, including the Center for Career Services.

The Carlson Center is pleased to be a part of UW Undergraduate Academic Affairs in the Center for Experiential Learning (EXP). EXP is home to six programs, all of which connect UW students to compelling and invigorating opportunities to expand and enrich their learning. Students can get involved in the community through the Carlson Center,Pipeline Project or Jumpstart, deepen academic inquiry through the Undergraduate Research Program, clarify goals and aspirations by working with the Undergraduate Scholarship Office, and embrace entrepreneurial and civic spirit and be a Mary Gates Scholar!