Community-Engaged Learning (CEL) involves combining the study of theory with direct "real-world" experience in a community setting on or off campus. The experience can include internships, projects with community organizations or peers, field research involving community agencies, etc.
What is important is that the experience advances your learning while also meeting the goals of a community. It should be ethical and reciprocal. You’ll learn a great deal by reflecting on your community engaged experiences and seeing how they connect to the questions and ideas you study in other ways.
What you might learn through community-engaged work:
- Connect your learning in and out of classroom (integrative thinking)
- Understand your surrounding community and your position relative to the community
- Help build beneficial, long-lasting relationships between the College and community partners
In Division I, there is a requirement of 40 hours of community engagement (CEL-1). The main focus of CEL-1 is on your becoming a part of the campus community. You might join a club, engage with the Learning Collaboratives on a team project, create a project of some sort on campus, or get involved in the work of your peers who are creating shows, art installations, doing research, looking for collaborators, etc. In addition, you are required to participate in the Community Education Days that happen each semester. They are an important part of becoming a part of the community as they help you develop the skills for participation in a diverse campus community. A portion of your CEL-1 must engage with the Race and Power throughline.
In Division II, you have a requirement of 40 hours of community engagement (CEL-2) in which you might take a bigger role in any of the groups you’ve already engaged with. For example, you might become a signer for a club or you could apply to be a resident assistant, peer facilitator, or an orientation leader. You might work in a campus office serving the needs of others, or you might be putting on a show and inviting others to support you! Many students take on projects off campus, working with a community organization, school, or after school program. Consider the ways you might deepen your leadership skills and mentor those who come after you. As always, Community Education Days can be a part of your CEL work.
In Division III, all of the Division II ideas hold. Your Division III project might be connected to a community organization you have worked with. And remember, the community you work with can be anywhere in the world.