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Community Engaged Learning Designation

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;
  • allows us 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.

President Pershing's office provides additional funding, based on enrollment in CEL classes, to support and enhance community-engaged learning courses and faculty. Funds are transferred to programs and departments after OBIA completes its calculations. The additional funding must be reinvested in your community-engaged learning program. Some of the legitimate uses include:

  • 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, if the individual has regular meetings with community partners; meals, if the individual has a lunch meeting with a community partner; supplies, if the individual needs to purchase software or books).

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 15 for Fall classes, October 15 for Spring classes, and February 15 for Summer classes. Associate Professor Ivis Garcia Zambrana, Department of City and Metropolitan Planning, has graciously made available her Application for "Leadership and Community Engagement" (CMP 4030/6030-001). A sample syllabus that includes CEL best practices will be available here soon.

Please note: 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

Questions? Contact the Bennion Center or call 581-4811.
2016-2017 Community Engaged Learning Course Designation Committee 

The Committee is charged with assessing CEL applications, syllabi, and ancillary materials; regularly reviewing courses with the CEL attribute; advocating community-engaged learning to colleagues; evaluating processes and procedures related to community-engaged learning (e.g., designation criteria, rubrics, and learning outcomes).

  • Lily Alavi, Associate Instructor, Department of World Languages and Cultures
  • Leticia Alvarez Gutierrez, Associate Professor, Department of Education, Culture, and Society
  • Devan Church, Graduate Assistant, Bennion Community Service Center
  • David Hawkins, Assistant Professor (Lecturer), Department of  Writing and Rhetoric Studies
  • Akiko Kamimura, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology
  • Kelby McIntyre-Martinez, Assistant Dean of Arts Education & Community Engagement, College of Fine Arts
  • Teresa Molina, Associate Director, University Neighborhood Partners
  • Cathleen Power, Service-learning Coordinator, Gender Studies Program

 Many thanks to those individuals who served on the 2015-2016 committee:

  • Lily Alavi, Associate Instructor, Department of Languages and Literature
  • Cathy Chambless, Research Associate, Center for Public Policy and Administration
  • Devan Church, Graduate Assistant, Bennion Community Service Center
  • Chris Jensen, Community Engaged Learning Coordinator, Bennion Community Service Center
  • Akiko Kamimura, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology
  • Teresa Molina, Associate Director, University Neighborhood Partners
  • Cathleen Power, Service-learning Coordinator, Gender Studies Program
  • Amy Sibul, Service Learning Coordinator, Department of Biology


Some examples of Community Engaged Learning
  • Juan Carlos Claudio, formerly an assistant professor in the University of Utah Department of Modern Dance, was designated the Utah Campus Compact Community Engaged Scholar of the Year (2014). His "enthusiasm for the power of dance to change the lives of people in the community" has been called "infectious." He has done extensive work with elementary-age students and individuals with Parkinson's disease. See why Professor Claudio is passionate about communities and collaborations, and read more about his use of dance as therapy in a June 30, 2015, story in the Salt Lake Tribune.
  • Adrienne Cachelin, an associate professor in the Environmental & Sustainability Studies program, regularly teaches a community-engaged learning course called "Eating for Justice, Sustainability, and Health" that focuses on how food directly impacts human and ecological well-being. Two of Professor Cachelin's students, Kate Harrington and Mary McIntyre, collaborated with individuals at Glendale Community Learning Center in Salt Lake City on a project that explored how they were using the space to cook, connect, and share food. The students received assistantships from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program that enabled them to complete the book, Savor: Stories of Community, Culture, & Fooda collection of fifteen recipes and contributor profiles from participants originating from twelve different countries.
  • Adjunct Associate Professor Hal Johnson engages graduate students in the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning in urban-planning projects. In April 2015, for example, students presented their analysis of the 40th Street corridor to the South Ogden City Council
  • Students in Professor Stephen Goldsmith's "Urban Ecology Workshop," a capstone course required for the Urban Ecology major in the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning, spent Fall 2014 semester listening to the diverse voices of citizens and visitors in Springdale, Utah. The town of 500 residents manages annually an influx of 3 million visitors who pass through en route to Zion National Park. This demographic surge places many burdens on the town, but it also provides opportunities. The students were deeply engaged with the community and spent many days conducting surverys, visiting with residents and even staying in their homes. Moumita Kundu, an associate planner for Springdale, said, "The Planning Commission of the Town of Springdale was very much impressed with the outstanding project your students have put together. The efforts for the project were highly appreciated and recommendations valued." The students' experiences, and the thoughtfulness in the ways they reflected back to the community what they heard, led to their being awarded the 2015 Award of Distinction from the Utah Chapter of the American Planning Association for their real contributions to planning processes in Springdale. This is the third time that University of Utah students have received this prestigious award for their community-engaged work.
  • Tara Austin design"Sustainable Design Practice" (ART 4695) is an overview of the principles behind ecological sustainability and how design strategies affiliated with it can be applied to creative thinking and design process. During Spring 2015, students in Professor Carol Sogard's class had an opportunity to apply course concepts, knowledge, and Amber Mott designtheories to collaborative projects with two partners: the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah, and St. John the Baptist Middle School in Draper, Utah. For the former, students worked with a committee of library staff and patrons to develop new, visually-compelling labels for the recycling bins. The goal was to draw more attention to the bins and encourage proper recycling. Tara Austin designed the labels, above, which should be in place by Spring 2016. At Juan Diego, U students worked with 7th and 8th grade pupils in the "Ecologic" class to develop an in-school awareness campaign about food and packaging waste that is created in the cafeteria during lunch time. The artwork at left is by Amber Mott.
Last Updated: 2/27/17