Terms and Definitions

Service Learning

Service learning is "a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities"  (servicelearning.org).

"Service learning incorporates community work into the curriculum, giving students real-world learning experiences that enhance their academic learning while providing a tangible benefit for the community" (Campus Compact).

Community-Based Research

"A partnership of students, faculty, and community members who collaboratively engage in research with the purpose of solving a pressing community problem or effecting social change" (Strand, Marullo, Cutforth, Stoecker, Donohue. Community-Based Research and Higher Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003).

Curriculum-based community-based research is a form of service learning; research is the service activity.

Civic Engagement

"Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes" (Thomas Ehrlich, Civic Responsibility and Higher Education).

Civic Learning

"Civic learning that includes knowledge, skills, values, and the capacity to work with others on civic and societal challenges can help increase the number of informed, thoughtful, and public-minded citizens well prepared to contribute in the context of the diverse, dynamic, globally connected United States. Civic learning should prepare students with knowledge and for action in our communities" (A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy's Future, A Report from the National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement).

Community-Based Learning

"Community-based learning enriches coursework by encouraging students to apply the knowledge and analytical tools gained in the classroom to the pressing issues that affect local communities. Working with faculty members and community-leaders, students develop research projects, collect and analyze data, and share their results and conclusions with organizations and agencies that need the information, as well as with their professors" (Princeton Community Based Learning Initiative).

"Community-based learning is a pedagogy that links necessary work conducted in community contexts to academic study in rigorous, intentional, and meaningful fashion. It heightens the relevance of academic subjects by directly linking classroom learning to experiences in communities which may be defined by geography, affinity, or organization. Examples include: service learning, community-based research, community-based planning and design, community-based performance, and other artistic initiatives" (Temple University).

"Any class that connects students to Greater Richmond community for experiential learning is considered a community-based learning class. Models of community-based learning include:

  • bringing community partners into the classroom;
  • participant observation and shadowing;
  • producing documentaries and performances;
  • study trips;
  • service trips;
  • service learning (mentoring, tutoring, interpreting, etc.);
  • teaching course materials in schools, prisons, etc;
  • data analysis and background research for community partners;
  • organizational studies and consulting; and
  • clinical education.

Community-based learning is much more than substituting an 'experience assignment' for a more traditional assignment.  Courses fully integrate classroom and community elements. Faculty design projects to respond to community-identified needs, and the community partners often become co-educators. Students in the courses also act as co-educators rather than passive recipients, engaging in the community, reflecting on experiences, and adding their insights to the educational content of the course" (University of Richmond).

Engaged Institution

The engaged institution "is responsive, respectful of its partners' needs, accessible and relatively neutral, while successfully integrating institutional service into research and teaching and finding sufficient resources for the effort" (Kellogg Commission's report Returning to Our Roots: The Engaged Institution, 1999).

"Engagement - in which institutions and communities form lasting relationships that influence, shape, and promote success in both spheres - is rare. More frequently, there is evidence of unilateral outreach, rather than partnership based on mutual benefit, mutual respect, and mutual accountability" (Kellogg Foundation).

Public Scholarship

"Public scholarship is a way of describing an approach to what we do, as members of an academic community. Public scholarship incorporates recognition of the obligations implicit in that membership : [i] a duty to develop civic engagement among students with an eye on why, as well as on how; [ii] a responsibility to focus discover and creative performance on the social, civic, economic, educational, artistic and cultural well-being of the neighborhoods beyond the academy, as well as on basic research and disciplinary teaching; and [iii] the development of a 'curriculum of consequence' in which the conduct of public scholarship provides a means through which students and faculty can view their work not as the isolated, self-indulgent actions of a campus segregated from society, but as the contributions of scholar-citizens with membership in a larger community" (Jeremy Cohen and Lakshman Yapa, "Introduction: What is Public Scholarship?" Blueprint for Public Scholarship at Penn State).

"Public scholarship refers to diverse modes of creating and circulating knowledge for and with publics and communities. It often involves mutually-beneficial partnerships between higher education and organizations in the public and private sectors. Its goals include enriching research, creative activity, and public knowledge; strengthening democratic values and civic responsibility; addressing and helping to solve critical social problems; and contributing to the public good" (Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life).

Scholarship of Engagement

"The National Review Board for the Scholarship of Engagement considers Scholarship of Engagement as a term that captures scholarship in the areas of teaching, research, and/or service. It engages faculty in academically relevant work that simultaneously meets the campus mission and goals as well as community needs. In essence, it is a scholarly agenda that integrates community issues. In this definition, community is broadly defined to include audiences external to the campus that are part of a collaborative process to contribute to the public good" (https://www.scholarshipofengagement.org/index.html).

"Engaged scholarship reflects empirical research conducted in partnership with public and private stakeholders, with the goal of addressing critical social issues and contributing to the public good. Often, community partners are included in the research process, either as informants, in collecting data, in analyzing the data, or all of the above. Among the pieces included here are those utilizing an action research methodology, in which tangible and immediate outcomes of community-based research are sought" (UCLA Center for Community Partnerships).

"Community-engaged scholarship is scholarship that involves the faculty member in a mutually beneficial partnership with the community. By 'community-engaged scholarship' we mean teaching, discovery, integration, application and engagement that involves the faculty member in a mutually beneficial partnership with the community and has the following characteristics: clear goals, adequate preparation, appropriate methods, significant results, effective presentation, reflective critique, rigor and peer-review" (Community Campus Partnerships for Health).

"Engaged scholarship is participatory and values the community partners as collaborators; benefits the community partners (e.g., agencies, neighborhoods, clients) in ways that are identified by them and others as being significant and effective; and furthers the scholarship of the faculty members in ways that are recognized by others as having academic impacts as well as community impact" (Memorandum, Indiana University-Purdue University).

University-Community Engagement

University-Community Engagement "describes the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context partnership and reciprocity" (Carnegie Foundation).

"By 'community-engagement' we mean applying institutional resources (e.g., knowledge and expertise of students, faculty and staff; political position; and buildings and land) to address and solve challenges facing communities through collaboration within these communities... Community engagement is not necessarily scholarship" (Community Campus Partnerships for Health).

"By engagement, we refer to institutions that have redesigned their teaching, research, and extension and service functions to become every more sympathetically and productively involved with their communities, however community may be defined" (National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges).