Resources for Faculty

Background to Community-Engaged Learning at Bates

Bates College has a long and proud tradition as a national leader in efforts to integrate academically rigorous, mutually beneficial work in the community into courses and research across the liberal arts curriculum.  From its founding in 1855, Bates’ mission has been to empower students to take informed civic action while helping them to cultivate the skills needed to become responsible stewards of the wider world. The establishment of the Center for Service Learning in 1995 advanced this commitment by providing institutional support for faculty who wanted their students to engage and collaborate with community members in order to realize their teaching goals. At the time, the effort to link service to academic study was only beginning to gain traction in institutions of higher education, and the Bates Center for Service Learning was one of the first programs in the country devoted to promoting work in the community as a means for furthering students’ academic development. With the vision and guidance of co-founders Peggy Rotundo and James Carignan, the Center for Service-Learning helped professors and students forge meaningful partnerships with a wide range of grassroots initiatives, non-profits, and local officials that helped to promote positive change in Lewiston-Auburn while bringing Bates to the forefront of an innovative pedagogy.

The Harward Center for Community Partnerships was established in 2004 to build on the strengths of the college’s Center for Service Learning and to honor the legacy of Bates president Donald W. Harward, who made community-engaged learning and research, as well as positive campus-community relationships, hallmarks of his presidency. The transition away from the language of service learning and towards terms of partnership and community engagement reflected broader efforts to move beyond a deficit and charity-oriented model that privileges students and faculty as the main providers of work and knowledge. Partnership as method involves a thoroughgoing recognition of the strengths and assets of the off-campus community and a commitment to engage that community in a spirit of humility, openness, and collaboration. Partnership as goal means that student learning and community well-being are co-equal goods whose attainment is an ongoing, collaborative pursuit. Whether community partnerships are central to your pedagogy, or you are including a small project with the community in one of your courses for the first time, our Harward Center staff are eager to help you navigate the process and find ways to cultivate transformative collaborations  with our local partners.

The resources below will help you to build your understanding of principles and best practices for community-engaged learning and pedagogy. If you are interested in discussing a specific course or project, we invite you to set up an appointment with one of our CEL staff members. 

The Benefits of Community-Engaged Learning

The benefits of CEL are well-documented, with assessments demonstrating increased learning and graduation rates at every level of education. Research has also shown the benefits of CEL in the following areas:

Learning Outcomes
CEL students are:

  • More invested in their learning
  • Learn more academic content, and retain key material longer
  • Learn higher-order skills (e.g., critical thinking, writing, math, and technology) at more advanced levels of aptitude.
  • Learn to evaluate and deploy multiple approaches to complex problems
  • More readily transfer learning from one context to another

Sources: Prentice and Robinson 2010; Gallini and Moely 2003; Cress 2004

Whole Person Outcomes
CEL students develop:

  • Increased emotional intelligence
  • Enhanced self-efficacy
  • Deeper understanding of the self-world relationship
  • Psychosocial well-being
  • Increased motivation for mindful community action

Sources: Bernacki and Jaeger 2008; Hurtado and DeAngelo 2012

Institutional Outcomes
CEL has been shown to offer a range of institutional benefits:

  • Improved student retention
  • Students’ pursuit of higher levels of education
  • Faculty scholarship productivity
  • Increased positive outcomes for first-gen students and students of color, including academic performance, and persistence to graduation
  • Positive correlations with recruitment and retention of faculty of color
  • Improved town-gown relations and more livable communities:
  • Enhanced ability of community partners to achieve their goals
  • Increased participation of students, faculty, and staff in off-campus community
Introduction to the Principles of Community-Engaged Learning

Introductory Resources
There is a substantial literature on the general principles and methods of community-engaged learning, which can be challenging to navigate due to the many terms used to describe the work. Different scholars and institutions refer to service learning, community-engaged learning, community-based learning, public scholarship, and civic engagement,  among others. Each has distinct connotations that reflect the methods and philosophies that animate the work. Joe Bandy of the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching provides an excellent introduction to the various terms and the benefits and drawbacks to each. For a general introduction to principles of community-engaged research, see Kerry Strand, Nicholas Cutforth, et al., Community-based Research and Higher Education: Principles and Practices (San Francisco, 2003); individual chapters of the volume make suitable reading assignments to prepare undergraduate students for the various phases of developing community-engaged research projects. Randy Stoecker, Research Methods for Community Change (Los Angeles, 2012), draws on the author’s long experience as a leader in academic community-engagement to provide a model and strategy for integrating research into efforts to promote community change. Corey Dolgon, Tania D. Mitchell, and Timothy K. Eatman, The Cambridge Handbook of Service Learning and Community Engagement (New York, 2017), provides an assessment of the latest trends in community-engaged work within different disciplines, and offers much greater focus on pedagogy. Gelmon, Holland, et al., Assessing Service-Learning and Civic Engagement: Principles and Techniques (Providence, 2001), provides an overview of methods for evaluating the impact of community-engaged work on students,  partners, faculty, and institutions. 

Teaching Resources

If you are looking for resources to gain a greater understanding of the benefits and principles of community-engaged teaching and research within your discipline, or if you are seeking project ideas and templates for a particular subject,  we encourage you to reach out directly to Harward Center staff so that we can offer you tailored suggestions. Below are links to online resources on community-engaged pedagogy and important topics in civic engagement in higher education. Many of these are available on the website of the National Campus Compact,  which is dedicated to promoting civic engagement at more than 1000 campuses across the United States. Their main resource page is a good place to start your search.

Community-Engaged Research Resources 
From the National Campus Compact, this page includes references to resources in specific subject areas and disciplines, including public health, sociology, and history.

Community-Engaged Learning, Tenure, and Promotion 
This page  from the National Campus Compact Toolkit offers an annotated bibliography of resources exploring the ways that community-engaged scholarship and teaching is factored into tenure and promotion decisions, including discussions about how to best leverage this work during a review. A 2016 study conducted by Diane Doberneck in the Journal of Community Engagement a Scholarship, “Are we there yet?” offers an instructive update on the current state of community-engagement and tenure policies in institutions of higher education.

Sample Syllabi, Assignments, and Project Ideas
This searchable database of syllabi and assignments for community-engaged learning courses provides a valuable resource as you begin to develop your CEL course. Our Annual Reports on Civic Engagement at Bates offer detailed descriptions of community-engaged research projects and courses offered at Bates each year. These can help you to generate ideas for your course by providing you with templates to work from, and by leading you to faculty colleagues who can support your community-engagement work. They can also help you to develop a greater awareness of the work that other faculty and students have already undertaken in the community, particularly when used in conjunction with the catalog of SCARAB, a repository for student research.

Scholarship and Professional Development Resources

Some of our strongest partnerships begin with community-engaged research projects undertaken by faculty members. Direct collaboration naturally fosters a greater understanding of the challenges that our community partners are facing, while also helping to generate ideas for projects and opportunities that would be feasible for students at different levels. A variety of professional development resources and publications are listed below to help you get started.

National Community-Engagement Organizations and Professional Associations
The Association for American Colleges and Universities offers an extensive list of national organizations involved in promoting civic engagement in higher education.

The Civic Engagement Center of Binghamton University offers an excellent list of CEL related publications, organized by discipline and linked to the websites.

Grant and Fellowship Opportunities
Coming soon…

More to come?

We want to hear your feedback about this page and what resources would be most useful to you and your research and teaching. If you would like to see something else included here, please contact us.