Student, faculty, and staff commitment to social responsibility has been a large part of Grinnell College's history.Today's Service Learning and Civic Engagement Program is an outgrowth of this history and operates under the assumption that civic engagement activities not only address the common good, but are  a form of interdisciplinary transformational learning.

Activities and classes supported by the program allow students to become active participants in their learning while making a difference in the community. In addition to enhancing students’ overall sense of well being and civic purpose, the activities deepen students' understanding of what they are learning in the classroom and teach them related, transferrable professional skills. Moreover, community service activities allow students to appreciate interdisciplinary nature of real world problem solving and thus to understand the civic and professional value of a liberal arts education.