CEL Faculty at the U
Community-Engaged Learning (CEL)
At its most basic, CEL involves students, faculty and community partners working together to apply knowledge in authentic settings in order to address community needs while also meeting instructional objectives. CEL enhances and deepens students' understanding of an academic discipline by facilitating the integration of theory and practice. This high impact teaching method provides students with experiences that develop life skills, with opportunities to engage in critical reflection, and with the intellectual space to understand and contribute to the public purpose of their chosen major or discipline. It is a strategy, a process, an experience that involves both action and reflection.
- Meets instructional learning objectives through course content, faculty-structured service, engagement, and critical reflection and is meant to prepare students to be civically responsible members of the community.
- Generates and applies academic knowledge in a community-based setting; student service and engagement address the needs of the community as identified through mutually beneficial collaboration with community-partners.
- Helps our University anchor itself in the public square by providing meaningful connections between our teaching, research, and service, and the issues our community is grappling with everyday.
Three Core Traits of a CEL Class
- Course design incorporates community engagement to facilitate and/or enhance student learning
- The course identifies learning outcomes that address both academic understanding and community needs identified in partnership with the community
- Reflection is utilized throughout the course to enhance learning, understanding, and broader connections to society
CEL Learning Outcomes
- Student develops and applies the abilities needed to contribute to positive community change including research methods, project management, communication, intercultural competence, collaborative teamwork, critical thinking, and/or leadership within community engagement
- Student increases their awareness of and reflects on the interconnectedness among individuals, society, and systems, and the underlying causes of inequities
- Student enhances awareness of their sense of place in and responsibility to community issues, especially issues of inclusivity, justice, environmental sustainability, and/or equity
- Student develops habits related to regular participation in community engaged learning and/or scholarship
Community-Engaged Learning Dashboard
We invite you to take a look at our Community-Engaged Learning Dashboard to learn more about the following:
- Degrees Awarded
- Graduation Rates
University of Utah faculty may apply to have their courses designated as community-engaged learning (CEL) in the schedule of classes. Identifying courses in this way is beneficial for you and your students. Among other things, the CEL designation:
- Helps students see that they are enrolling in a CEL course when they register.
- Introduces students to the idea of community-engaged learning before they attend class on the first day.
- Brings greater visibility to the practice of community-engaged learning at the University of Utah.
- Provides data to track these courses and identify the faculty and students who engage in this meaningful practice.
- Enables the Bennion Center to document the benefits of this pedagogy to students, the community, and faculty, and report those benefits to administrators, community partners, donors, and others.
Applications and syllabi are reviewed by the Community-Engaged Learning Course Designation Committee.
Materials must be submitted online by the following dates for consideration: March 1st for Fall classes, October 1st for Spring classes, and February 1st for Summer classes.
CEL-designated classes automatically earn funding to recognize their value and also the extra effort it may take to provide deeply engaged learning opportunities. Funds are transferred to programs and departments after the Office of Budget and Institutional Analysis (OBIA) completes its calculations. The additional funding must be reinvested in your community-engaged learning program. Some of the legitimate uses include:
- Purchasing materials or equipment for student CEL projects and/or for a community partner to allow for engagement
- Paying an honorarium to a community partner for working with a CEL class or group of students
- Paying the parking for a community partner who comes to campus to talk with a CEL class
- Paying background checks for students (it is now a requirement if students in CEL classes are working with children under the age of 18)
- Paying for a semester-end party/open house, which could entail CEL presentations by students to community partners
- Reimbursing a faculty member who teaches CEL courses for associated expenses (e.g., mileage to community partner site; meal with a community partner; CEL classroom supplies; etc.)
The Bennion Center tracks the uses and effectiveness of this CEL SCH funding and reports outcomes to the Office of the President. Please use the below linked form to report how you or your academic unit(s) utilized the CEL SCH awards to support your CEL efforts. It is important to understand the variety of ways these awards support our campus-wide community engaged efforts.
Special Considerations for CEL Courses
Is your CEL course an Online Course? If students will be completing more than 6 hours of required community engagement outside of the state of Utah, the University is required to seek authoriation from each state where the work occurs. Please contact Katie Sexton at the Curriculum Administration's State Authorization office to initiate the authorization process. 801-585-7490.
The University of Utah has adopted a Safety of Minors Policy (1-015) to help ensure that all minors who participate in University programs have a safe and meaningful educational experience. This policy also applies to all community-engaged learning courses that have interactions with children under the age of 18. Read the details about the required steps.
CEL Designation Review Process
The Bennion Center’s Community-Engaged Learning Committee oversees the review process for both new CEL designations and 5-year reviews of CEL designated courses. Applications are reviewed according to criteria described in the attached rubrics. In addition to meaningful community-based learning, the CEL Committee is looking for robust CEL-related learning outcomes, evidence of reciprocal dialogue among faculty and potential community partners, and consistent reflection opportunities to contemplate broader societal issues related to the discipline.
Like Gen Ed Designations, CEL Designations are reviewed every 5 years. This process is necessary to ensure our University of Utah CEL database is accurate and that CEL Best Practices are utilized campus-wide. It also allows for a better understanding of the variety of community partners that UofU faculty are working with, and for the collection of student artifacts for CEL Learning Outcomes assessment. The Bennion Center will share detailed instructions via email to the current instructors and academic leaders of CEL classes that need to undergo a 5-year review.
In addition to the above described review processes, the CEL Committee advises the Bennion Center’s Leadership Team on strategic matters related to CEL instruction campus-wide. If you are interested in serving on the CEL Committee, please contact Megan Medina.
Questions? Contact Megan Medina, Associate Director of Curriculum & Scholarship
Having a CELA can help to facilitate a consistent community-engaged learning experience for students enrolled in the course and community partners. If awarded, your CELA can support your teaching in these ways:
- Articulating the purpose of community-engaged learning to students and community partners.
- Helping prepare students and community partners to work with each other.
- Assisting faculty with identification, coordination, and communication with community partners throughout the semester.
- Providing ongoing communication, technical assistance, and problem-solving for both partners and students.
- Developing and/or assisting in developing the plan for reflection and assisting with reflection activities.
- Coordinating community partner evaluations.
Students who serve as CELA's receive a financial award based on class enrollment and availability of funds. For qualifying classes with <25 students, a $900 award for a 0.75 CELA. For qualifying classes of 25-74 students, one full-time CELA position is funded at $1250. For classes larger than 75 students, multiple CELA positions can be funded on an as-needed basis as funds are available.
Application Due Dates
Applications are due by May 1st (for a Fall semester class) and November 15th (for a Spring semester class). No CELA funding is available for summer semester courses. Successful applicants will be notified within two weeks of application deadlines. Awards are contingent upon the availability of funds, and will be distributed during the first two weeks of the semester awarded.
Please review the eligibility criteria, below, then use the online form to submit your application for a CELA award.
Contact Megan Medina if you have questions.
For Faculty: 1) instructors interested in developing a community-engaged learning course by “test teaching” it, and 2) instructors who teach a CEL-designated class may apply for a CELA award.
For Students: Instructors may select an undergraduate or graduate student for their CELA. Prior community-engaged learning coursework is highly preferred, but not mandatory. The Bennion Center also can help you identify a student to serve as your CELA. In this case, preference will be given to students in the Bennion Center Scholars Program, which helps undergraduates apply their academic knowledge to community issues.
Please note: FERPA regulations require that undergraduate students who grade student work must complete FERPA training prior to grading. See the below link for more information and access to the online training:
Program Support for Community-Engaged Learning Assistants
Students hired as CELA's should watch the below 15-minute training video. It provides details about their role as a mentor to students and a point of contact for community partners. Topics addressed include: an exploration of the definition of CEL; guidance on engaged learning in higher education; key elements of critical reflection; and supporting mutually beneficial and collaborative community partnerships. Faculty that hire a CELA should also look over the below linked handout.
- "Providing Peer Mentors through a Service-Learning Teaching Assistants Program"
- This article, by Erin Burke Brown, Lynn E. Pelco, and Sabrina Hise (Virginia Commonwealth University), discusses success stories at VCU and elaborates on ways the CEL Assistants "have helped students understand the broader context of their educational experience and how it shapes the communities in which they live."
CEL Learning Outcomes
SCH CEL Funding
New CEL Courses
Safety of Minors Background Checks & Policy Compliance
If, as part of your CEL course, some or all of your students will be working with minors, you will need to comply with Safety of Minors policy. There are three components:
- Register your class with Youth Protection and Program Support
- Have students complete an “Authorized Adult” online training module
- Have students complete a background check before any interactions with minors
All relevant details and links can be found on the Policy Information Brochure linked below. You can also share the Student CBC Procedure Instructions, linked below, with your students.
If you have questions, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
CEL Publications Library
- Community Engaged Scholarship & PRT: https://scholars.org/contribution/why-evaluation-faculty-community-engaged
- From Critical to Decolonizing Service-Learning, Santiago-Ortiz 2019
National & Regional Organizations for CEL
- IUPUI: https://www.iupui.edu/
- Utah CAmpus Community Engagement Network: https://weber.edu/ccel/uccen.html
- Association of American Colleges & Universities: https://www.aacu.org/
- Campus Compact: https://compact.org/
- IARSLCE: https://www.researchslce.org/
- If your students will be working in the field with community partners, per U of U Regulation, they must complete a Liability/Field Trip Waiver Form.
The University of Utah is committed to community engaged scholarship and research. Faculty are invited to apply for the following awards recognizing research, excellence in the classroom, and passion for strengthening communities through learning, scholarship and advocacy.
Public Service Professorship
This significant award is designed to help a faculty member strengthen community-engaged learning experiences and opportunities tied to civic engagement, and also foster stronger partnerships with the local community.
2023: Hallie Jay Pope, Professor—S. J. Quinney College of Law
Professor Pope came to the University of Utah to develop the Creative Advocacy Lab (CAL), an experiential course dedicated to promoting access to justice and democratizing legal information. According to Pope, “CAL explores modes of legal advocacy beyond traditional client representation, re-envisioning lawyers as community educators, problem-solvers, and storytellers. In collaboration with community partners, students use creative tools—like design thinking, narrative, plain language writing, and visual communication—to make legal information accessible to those who need it.” She will utilize the $7,500 award in partnership with CAL students, People’s Legal Aid Utah, and the tenants they work alongside to design informational resources about housing law and renters’ rights.
Distinguished Faculty Service Award
Dr. David and Susan Jabusch generously donate $1,000 to the non-profit community organization of the award winner's choice.
2023: Amos N. Guiora, Professor—S. J. Quinney College of Law
Epitomizing community-engaged scholarship, Professor Guiora’s path-breaking research and writing on Bystanders and Enablers in sexual assaults has had both direct and indirect impacts on survivors worldwide. Beyond his many presentations and discussions with survivors, he advocates for systemic change. He worked with Utah legislators Rep. Brian King and Sen. Kurt Bramble to introduce a bill that criminalized bystanders of sexual assault; the bill was signed by Governor Cox in March 2021. According to one letter of support from a survivor of sexual assault, “Professor Guiora's genuine care and concern aided in realizing my worth, therefore restoring my light. There are very few people in this world that will take the time to listen. Professor Guiora not only listened, he took initiative to create change.”
2023: Shannon Jones, Professor—Department of Nutrition and Integrated Physiology, College of Health
Professor Jones turns her passion for food access and justice into action. According to her nominator, “Shannon has taken our programs beyond nutrition education visits, to efforts to change the food environment at shelters, develop gardening programs, and alter state policies on health and nutrition for individuals experiencing homelessness.” All of Professor Jones’s letters of support mentioned her deep commitment to community work. Examples include staying late to finish planting gardens and hand delivering fresh produce via bike on nights and weekends. Of particular note is how she makes space for everyone to engage in the work. According to her College of Health colleague, Professor Jeffrey Rose, “Shannon leverages her unique relational abilities to inspire, educate, and connect with people on an extremely authentic level. She deeply cares about the people in her life, and this compassion and connection is inextricable from her capacity to mentor community members, students, and faculty about the myriad ways that community engagement and service affects our lives.”
CEL Faculty Highlights
2021: Kilo Zamora—Engaged Faculty Fellow
The Bennion Center for Community Engagement is pleased to announce the appointment of Kilo Zamora as this year’s Engaged Faculty Fellow. Kilo joins Amy Sibul, Associate Director of Curriculum & Scholarship at the Bennion Center, in the promotion and development of community engaged learning capacities across campus.
Kilo will co-lead this year’s CEL Faculty Learning Community discussions, and this year’s guiding theme is “Disrupting the Volunteer Conundrum for NPO’s”. Non-profit Organizations are often ideal community partners for CEL classes, from the perspective of faculty and students. How can CEL classes be the ideal partners for NPO’s? How can we build reciprocal CEL relationships with NPO’s that often operate in a paradigm of “understaffed but volunteer-abundant”?
CEL FLC discussions are held every 3rd Wednesday of the month from 1:30-2:30pm via zoom: remaining dates of Jan 19, Feb 16, Mar 16, Apr 20. If interested in joining in, please RSVP here.
Kilo is skilled in creating learning environments for groups to develop themselves and transform their communities. Kilo applies his talents as a community engagement consultant and instructor in the Shcool of Cultural & Transformation, University of Utah. He teaches multiple Community Engaged Learning (CEL) classes at the UofU, and is currently undertaking an innovative process to build curriculum for a new “Gender & Nature” course by incorporating community input and engagement from the “ground up” as he builds his syllabus.
Annual Dates of Deadlines
- CEL Applications:
- Fall semester - March 1st
- Spring semester - October 1st
- Summer semester - February 1st
- CEL TA Applications:
- Fall semester - July 15th
- Spring semester - November 15th
- Summer semester - March 15th
- Faculty Award Nominations/Applications:
- January 31st
CEL Faculty Workshops, Town Halls, & Next Practices Retreat
Introduction to CEL FAculty Workshop: For Faculty interested in learning more about Community Engaged Learning (CEL) pedagogy, and the CEL designation process. This is the ideal opportunity for new and experienced faculty alike to explore methods for teaching through community engagement and to learn about the benefits of a CEL designation for your class.
The next Intro to CEL Workshop will be in Summer 2022, date and time TBA.
Next Practices CEL FAculty Workshop: This is an anual faculty "think tank" where we tackle a compelling theme that pushes the field of Community Engaged Scholarship forward. The 2022 theme is "RPT and Community Engaged Scholarship: recognizing engaged teaching and research as essential to the University's mission".
The 2022 Next Practices workshop will be Friday May 13th 9:00am-2:00pm, in person in the Center for Teaching and Learning (Marriott Library 1705). Lunch included. Register here.
If you’re interested in future CEL faculty workshops and events, please email email@example.com
CEL Faculty Lunch & Learns
CEL Faculty Learning Community Discussions
- The CEL Faculty Learning Community for meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month, 1:30-2:30pm via zoom (The final discussion is April 13th). This year's guiding theme is "Disrupting the Volunteer Conundrum for NPO’s". Non-profit Organizations are often ideal community partners for CEL classes, from the perspective of faculty and students. How can CEL classes be the ideal partners for NPO’s? How can we build reciprocal CEL relationships with NPO’s that often operate in a paradigm of “understaffed but volunteer-abundant”? Please RSVP here if you’d like to join in and share in this conversation.
- If you have an idea for a CEL FLC discussion theme for the coming year, please share with firstname.lastname@example.org
National & Regional CEL Conferences
- The Utah Campus Community Engagement Network (UCCEN) Faculty Retreat is the 2nd week of February each year. For more information see the UCCEN webpage.
- IUPUI Assessment Institute. Information on the future assessments can be found here: https://assessmentinstitute.iupui.edu/overview/future.html.
The Bennion Center proudly supports and encourages quality community-based research (CBR). We want community members and academic researchers to work together in powerful partnerships to uncover, understand, disrupt obstacles as well as excentuate the assets that will lead to more healthy, inclusive, resilient, and just communities.
We want to employ CBR to:
- Translate scientific knowledge into practice
- Support organizing and movement building
- Impact policy
- Guide community and economic development
- Foster learning and personal transformation
- Build trust with communities harmed by past research
- Improve organizations
- Strengthen communities
- Enrich our understanding of the world
Our communities struggle with deep-rooted inequities and global challenges that defy simple answers. CBR is a powerful way to address these challenges by harnessing our collective knowledge, data, and resources.
This report, produced by the U's Community Research Collaborative, offers guidance for both community-based and campus-based practioners and anyone who wants to engage in quality collaborative CBR to strengthen their community.
The U's Community Research Collaborative is composed of researchers, organizers, activists, scholars, educators, and community leaders, who work together to advance quality participatory and action-oriented community-based research. The group and its products are supported by University Neighborhood Partners and the Bennion Center.