Community-Based Learning Courses

Community-based learning, including community service-learning, encompasses teaching, research and experiential learning that combines an authentic community or public service activity with academic instruction, focusing on critical, reflective thinking as well as evidence of civic responsibility and/or personal growth. The Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship (ICES) supports community-based learning in several ways:

With Faculty

  • Provide community-based learning course models and assistance with syllabus design
  •  Assist faculty in selecting appropriate community-based sites
  •  Act as liaison between faculty, community agencies and students with respect to community-based projects
  • Assist with assessment and evaluation tools
  • Connect faculty with appropriate bibliographical references
  • Connect new community-based learning faculty with veteran community-based learning faculty
  • Inform faculty of funding opportunities for community-based course development
  • Link faculty to national, regional and local resources and professional development options such as training, conferences and speakers.

With Students

  • Assist students with locating sites that are both appropriate to coursework and leverage students' interests and skills
  • Orient students to the community-based requirements of their coursework and community partner sites
  • Provide students with site descriptions and community partner contact information
  • Monitor students' progress and recommend adjustments, as necessary, to students, faculty and/or site supervisors
  • Provide students with ideas and methods to help them reflect on their community experience
  • Disseminate and collect pre- and post-experience surveys of learning

With Community Sites

  •  Develop community partnerships based on community interests and course objectives
  • Collaborate with community partners to develop appropriate site-specific training and orientation for students
  • Organize site visits to discuss faculty course goals and learning objectives
  • Maintain communication with community site staff to handle concerns and mediate resolutions
  • Disseminate and collect end-of-semester community partner evaluations, when applicable

Faculty Resources and Rewards

Community-Engaged Scholarship Grants
As funding is available, ICES and the campus American Democracy Project provide grants to support academic inquiry that substantially involve the community. Projects can take a variety of forms, including faculty-supervised SDIS or FDIS, full partnership in any stage of community-based participatory research, the development and integration of community service-learning activities in a course, cooperation in a community-based project's design, funding or implementation, and project co-investigation or co-evaluation.

Promotion and Tenure
With its Faculty Work Group, composed of representatives from each of the university's college and schools, ICES developed a framework for integrating community-engaged scholarship in Promotion and Tenure criteria, providing a tool to assist faculty in preparing professional development plans and P&T documentation. This tools is one way the ICES Faculty Work Group develops, with ICES staff, methods to strengthen engaged scholarship university-wide. Faculty can obtain more information by contacting or the faculty member's college representative to the ICES Faculty Work Group.

President's Circle of Engagement
The President's Circle of Engagement underscores the importance of the university's commitment to civic engagement, community partnerships and community-based scholarship. All courses with significant engaged learning components, as evidenced by course syllabi and other relevant materials, may be designated as "community engagement" courses. An annual reception, hosted by the president, recognizes the faculty members who teach this special group of courses as part of the Circle.

Community Engagement Award
All faculty members and staff are encouraged to submit nominations for the Community-Engaged Scholarship Award, commemorated as part of the annual Outstanding Employee Awards ceremony.

Community-Engaged Scholarship Forums
ICES has sponsored a variety of campus-wide forums designed to give faculty and their students a chance to showcase and reflect upon high-quality examples of engaged scholarship occurring in all corners of our university and with community partners. Likewise, ICES has supported faculty and students to demonstrate such work in other venues such as at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities annual undergraduate research conference, "Research on the Hill," conferences and more informal venues for knowledge exchange.