Shaping NJ in the Classroom: A Reflection on Community Engagement for Social Change

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Jeannine Donnelly


Community engagement is formally defined at the University of North Carolina Greensboro as “the collaboration among institutions of higher education and their larger communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.” It encompasses research, creative activities, teaching and service performed by organizations, students, faculty and community members for a public purpose and social change. Prior to this past spring 2012 semester, I had associated specific service activities with community engagement: volunteering in a food kitchen, renovating houses, cleaning up a park, and any type of physical work to improve the living conditions of impoverished communities. Moreover, growing up only ten miles outside of Camden, New Jersey, I had been involved in an ample amount of community service in impoverished communities throughout my grade school and high school years, and felt as though community engagement would be no different. Little did I know, the experience I was about to embark upon would forever expand my perceptions of community engagement, social change, communication, and public health. I realized that not only did university students have a genuine interest to improve the lifestyles of those around us, but they also could effectively work with community organizations in New Jersey to change improve health policies.

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Donnelly, J. (2012). Shaping NJ in the Classroom: A Reflection on Community Engagement for Social Change. Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning & Community-Based Research, 1, 1–7.
Reflective Essays