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Community-engaged learning

Community-engaged course development

The Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship provides consultations with faculty who are designing or redesigning community-engaged courses.  One-to-one consultations provide resources and expertise on best practices for high quality community-engaged learning including partnership development, syllabi integration, student preparedness, critical reflection, risk and liability, and evaluation and assessment.

To schedule a consultation or workshop- contact Katie Peacock, Associate Director for Academic Community Engagement at or 651-793-1291.


Types of academic community engagement

Community-engaged learning isn’t one type of pedagogy, but an umbrella term for a broad set of teaching and learning methods that typically combine mutually beneficial relationships with community organizations, academic learning, critical reflection, and civic skill development. 

Community engaged research: An opportunity for students to collaborate with a community partner to conduct research.  Community organizations often determine the research question and co-collaborate on the analysis and dissemination of findings. 

Clinical: An experience where students apply and practice academic skills in a professional setting, often health-related or legal fields.  Typically, the experience is offered in a credit-bearing course related to other more theoretical courses, or is offered as a culminating experience after a sequence of theoretical courses.

Critical service-learning:  An optional or required out-of-classroom service experiences or projects connected to the learning goals of the course and asks students to interrogate systems of inequality, question the distribution of and their relationship to power, and develop authentic relationships with community partners.

Disciplinary capstone projects:  A culminating course where students demonstrate the integration of disciplinary knowledge through a project that is of benefit to the community. 

Entrepreneurship: Students explore and build skills in planning and/or developing businesses, enterprises, or social ventures that address a societal need.

Field study: Students practice skills, conduct research, and/or explore academic content in an off-campus setting.  The setting is primarily a context to benefit and enhance student learning.

Internship/co-op: An uncompensated or compensated off-campus activity in a student’s field of study in which the student explores industry-related or work-related issues and/or develops professional and para-professional knowledge and skills.  Typically, the student’s work is supervised and evaluated by a site coordinator or the instructor.

Practicum: A course involving practical experience in a professional or other work-related setting in which the student applies learning gained from theoretical or other academic study.  Activity might include supervised opportunity as part of a pre-service professional experience.

Student teaching: Pre-professional and/or pre-service experience, usually as part of a teacher education program though which a student conducts experiential learning within a formal education school setting.  The student participates in supervised teaching that is evaluated by a supervising teacher or instructor.

*adapted from University of Minnesota’s Office for Public Engagement and Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching.