What is Community-Based Learning?

At Elon University, community-based learning is fundamentally an academic endeavor in which engagement in projects and activities takes place through reciprocal and mutually beneficial partnerships with the greater community designed to advance the public good. It is an experiential education approach that involves collaborative relationships, guided by the expertise of professors and community-based practitioners, to combine student learning with community needs as an integrated component of a course. The partnerships between Elon and communities engage students with entities such as nonprofit organizations, schools, government agencies, or locally-owned businesses. Under certain circumstances, community-based learning at Elon might also include work on campus that engages the university in a specified capacity and benefits the wider community.

Elon community-based learning includes the following four tenets:

  1. Engagement in projects and activities that are devoted to advancing the public good.
  2. Direct or indirect contact between students and the community, requiring preparation for students to gain community engagement skills and an understanding of their civic responsibilities.
  3. Activity that is reciprocally beneficial to the community and students and is relevant to course objectives.
  4. Structured reflection that enhances student understanding of connections between course content and community engagement.