Community Engaged Learning is "a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and development. Reflection and reciprocity are key concepts of [community-engaged] learning."
A course with the CEL designation may be small, such as an intensive undergraduate seminar or a lab that conducts field work in Africa. CEL courses also can be large, with additional classroom-partner support provided by CEL-TAs. Students benefit, because they are able to test and apply the theories and concepts they learn in the classroom. Faculty benefit, because they discover new avenues for research and publication, engage in reciprocal learning with students, and develop meaningful relationships with community organizations. Faculty also can help their students achieve the U's General Education Program Learning Outcomes, including civic engagement and foundations and skills for lifelong learning.
In addition, community-engaged learning is an integral component of the New U Student Experience, an initiative proposed by the Office of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Utah to ensure that all U students have a transformative undergraduate experience. During the four-year experience, students are encouraged "to gain vital experience outside the classroom" and participate in high-impact experiences such as those offered by the Bennion Center.
Faculty may apply for CEL designation for courses that combine instruction with community engagement in ways that encourage civic responsibility and critical reflection, foster community-based scholarship, emphasize civic engagement, and promote collaboration with community partners on projects that meet the course’s academic goals and advance the community partner’s mission.
Learn more about how U students benefit from community-engaged learning:
A student in Professor Nalini Nadkarni's course, "Biology, Society, and Public Engagement," turned a question into a position. His story was published in City Weekly on November 2, 2016.