When our neighbors thrive, our communities flourish.
When we combine social justice with environmental stewardship, we map a sustainable, inclusive future. And when our ideas are nourished, whether for new startup ventures or public policy studies, we grow closer to realizing our potential as a society with room and belonging for all.
For nearly 200 years, the Furman community has been enmeshed in the challenges, solutions and shared fortunes of South Carolina and beyond. It is a privilege that we honor. And it’s a trust that we earn anew with each community partnership – whether with Prisma Health, the Upcountry History Museum, the Greenville Drive or more than 70 nonprofits that serve South Carolina’s Upstate region.
Among the organizations and programs that make a measurable difference in the region and beyond are the Shucker Leadership Institute, the Furman Humanities Center, the Heller Service Corps and our four outward-facing institutes: The Hill Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, The Institute for the Advancement of Community Health, The Riley Institute and The Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities. At Furman, our students can take on health disparities in our neighborhoods, apply design-thinking to nonprofit work, help create a city’s sustainability plan, or represent the United States at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. All of these experiences – and so many others – are possible because of these institutes and the interdisciplinary philosophy that animates them.
Together our institutes form a collective of expertise, extending a rich spectrum of immersive learning experiences and purpose-defining opportunities to students. The diversity of thought and specialization within this portfolio intersects with the liberal arts and sciences mission, allowing us to make progress on the world’s most stubborn challenges.
The Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities
“El Tiempo,” sponsored by the Furman Humanities Center, is one of nine sculptures that make up the “Wings of the City” exhibit installed in downtown Greenville, South Carolina.
The Shi Institute is a regionally centered, community-focused hub that promotes sustainable human flourishing and recognizes the interdependence between social and equity challenges and environmental issues. Furman again ranked among the top 10 baccalaureate universities for sustainability, according to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
Launched in 2020 after building on its national renown as the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability, The Shi Institute connects campus and community to the work of developing sustainable communities. The institute’s three centers focus on education, applied research and leadership through a variety of programs.
Student Fellows, in which students take a lead role in addressing campus or community sustainability issues, hosted its 350th fellow. The Community Conservation Corps weatherized its 160th home and was one of three U.S. institutions recognized in the International Green Gown Awards in the “Benefitting Society” category. The research team supported and informed critical community initiatives, including maps and analyses of local food insecurity, affordable housing, evictions, and access to health and social services. The institute launched a sustainability leadership program in partnership with Sustain SC and will help the city of Greenville facilitate and write its first sustainability plan.
Bridges to a Brighter Future, a college access and success program serving high school students through year-round programming, welcomes its 25th class this fall, supporting 25 high school graduates and more than 100 students in colleges across the country. The College Advising Corps’ eight college advisors assisted more than 1,100 South Carolina high school students this year.
The Riley Institute
The Riley Institute at Furman broadens student and community perspective about issues critical to South Carolina’s progress, builds and engages present and future leaders, and creates and shares data supported information about the state’s core challenges.
In September, just before the presidential election, The Riley Institute and Furman’s Osher Lifelong
Learning Institute co-presented the 10th annual StraightTalk series on voting rights. National experts, such as Robert Costa, moderator for PBS’s “Washington Week,” engaged in compelling discussions that drew hundreds of Furman students and viewers from across the state. After the U.S. Capitol insurrection in January, the institute hosted Derek Black, former white nationalist leader turned anti-racism advocate, to share his perspective on forces that motivated the mob.
In the fall of 2020, the choice to go virtual allowed the institute’s award-winning Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI) to convene 46 participants in its first-ever statewide class, further growing the now 2,400-member cross-sector network of leaders equipped to leverage diversity to help drive solutions to long-term divisions and inequities that were exacerbated by the pandemic. The institute also launched a successful DLI graduate education program that helped 80 Riley Fellows navigate community and organizational expectations born from the current racial justice movement. Institute staff also began work on an oral history book project about the South Carolina Education Improvement Act of 1984, which passed under the leadership of former Gov. Dick Riley ’54; completed a five-year evaluation of OnTrack Greenville, a United Way of Greenville County initiative that helps students at high-poverty middle schools stay on track to graduate; and saw the White-Riley-Peterson Afterschool Policy Fellowship secure $310,000 through a continuation grant from the C.S. Mott Foundation.
Students volunteering with the Heller Service Corps gather stuffed bears to bring to pediatric hospital patients in October 2020.