Skip to main content

Frequently Asked Questions

Community-Engaged Learning enhances course learning outcomes and student engagement while also addressing community-identified needs. Community-engaged learning incorporates critical reflective thinking and civic engagement into academic coursework by integrating service opportunities with nonprofits, governmental, or educational community partners. Community-engaged learning involves students in activities that attend to local needs while developing their academic skills, increasing their subject matter knowledge, and commitment to their communities. Community-engaged learning commonly intersects with other high-impact practices (HIPs).

Some institutions use the term community-engaged or community-based learning verses community-engaged learning. Both terms are used in the field, and each institution determines the verbiage they want to use.

Critical education theory, which states that education should be rooted in social liberation, helps guide programming. The ideas of Palo Frier are central.

Experiential Learning Theory is also a foundational tenant. John Dewey laid the groundwork in Experience and Education (1938) for David Kolb's Experiential Learning Theory created around 1975.

For Dewey, the community was a core concept of his social philosophy. It was the communal association that gave rise to the moral, intellectual, and emotional aspects of life as well as the foundation of democracy. Not surprisingly, this view also strongly influenced Dewey's idea of organizing the school as a form of social life to resemble a "miniature community"(1916, p. 418). Dewey envisioned that " ... the school itself shall be made a genuine form of active community life, instead of a place set apart in which to learn lessons" (1900, p. 27). The Theoretical Roots of Community-Engaged Learning in John Dewey: Toward a Theory of Community-Engaged Learning, Giles & Eyler, 1994.

One reason Dewey wanted to democratize the schools was to have students experience the mutuality of social life through service. On this point he wrote, Where the school work consists in simply learning lessons, mutual assistance, instead of being the most natural form of cooperation and association, becomes a clandestine effort to relieve one's neighbor of his proper duties. Where active work is going on, all this is changed. Helping others, instead of being a form of charity which impoverishes the recipient. is simply an aid in setting free the powers and furthering the impulse of the one helped. (1900, p. 29). The Theoretical Roots of Community-Engaged Learning in John Dewey: Toward a Theory of Community-Engaged Learning, Giles & Eyler, 1994.

  • Students have access to scholarship opportunities and the Community-Engaged Learning Student Project Fund (CELSF) through the Engaged Learning Office.
  • Students also benefit from more profound learning and the ability to apply course knowledge to relevant community issues. Students also learn how to make a positive impact on critical social problems.

Depending on the focus, faculty are awarded between $500 and $5,000 for designating their course or program! Check out the Faculty Community-Engaged Learning page for details.

Individual Course Designation, Civic Faculty Fellows, and Engaged Department Designation.

The Thayne Center coordinates community partnerships and collaborates with the Engaged Learning Office who manages the Community-Engaged Learning Designation program. They have an extensive database of potential partners you can work within a variety of fields. To find a partner for your course or project, you can work with the Engaged Learning Coordinator, or contact the Thayne Center Community Partnerships Coordinator.

Best practice indicates that faculty should collaborate with community partners early and often. Community partners should be considered co-educators and treated as such. Faculty should communicate with partners when developing their community-engaged learning course and then should also continue to communicate throughout the course.

There are many benefits to community-engaged learning for students and their career development, applied knowledge, and experiential learning. Often, students enter into the experience reluctantly but then report afterward that the experience was profoundly educational and rewarding.

  • The Engaged Learning Coordinator, is available to speak with faulty and find ways to integrate service into their course and point faculty into the direction of resources for them.
  • The Community-Engaged Learning Professional Development series is an online course that helps faculty take the steps needed to submit an individual course proposal.
  • Our community-engaged learning faculty page is frequently updated with SLCC training offered throughout the year. Some events include the Community-Engaged Learning Professional Development Series, the Engaged Faculty Institute, Civic Literacy Workshop, and Engaged Department Retreats.
  • We are also happy to collaborate on individual departmental training or customized workshops.

The Engaged Learning Office has a library available to both faculty and students. A list of available books in our library is coming soon! We also encourage faculty to visit the following sites as they have extensive resources:

Most departments that are engaged started by designated individual courses with community-engaged learning. Once they designated a critical mass, they began to work on the department mission, vision, values, and culture related to community engagement along with a cohort of faculty and the department's Associate Dean. Along with this larger, departmental community partners are identified and fostered. A track for students to engage in Civically Engaged Scholars is also developed.

Some faculty seek Engaged Department distinction because they want their students to graduate with the Civically Engaged Scholars honor. Some faculty seek the distinction for the recognition of existing community engagement efforts. Faculty in Engaged Departments have access to funding to support civic and community engagement effort at large as well as access to professional development.   

The civic faculty fellows exists primarily to support civic and community engagement efforts in engaged departments. Although proposals are accepted for broad-based community engagement work at the college.   

Activity in Dangerous Locations: I understand that some organizations I want to participate in may involve activities in dangerous locations and may include, but are not limited to the following risks:

  • Touring or working in hazardous construction sites;
  • Touring or working in dangerous neighborhoods/areas;
  • Visiting high motor vehicle traffic areas;
  • Hiking in rugged wilderness and mountainous terrains; and/or
  • Touring or working in industrial facilities or facilities with dangerous or toxic substances.
  • I understand that these activities could result in personal injury, death and/or property damage.