Community-Based Learning

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.

At 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.

Community-Based Learning (formerly Academic Service-Learning) Designated Courses

For class-based (project-based) courses, in order to receive Community-Based Learning (formerly Academic Service-Learning) course designation and Experiential Learning Requirement credit, the project must engage students in at least 40 hours of experiential learning. These hours can include preparation, learning, and reflection, but it is recommended that 15 to 30 of these hours be completed through on-site, direct service.

For more information about teaching an Community-Based Learning course click here.

Community Engaged Learning Courses

Classes that do not have the Community-Based Learning (formerly Academic Service-Learning) course designation, but involve a community component are known as Community Engaged Learning courses. These courses include reciprocal learning between the university and community, but do not reach the 40-hour threshold for a Community-Based Learning (formerly Academic Service-Learning) designation.

For more information about teaching a Community Engaged Learning course click here.

Faculty Development and Support

The Kernodle Center for Civic Life, in partnership with the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, offers the following opportunities to support faculty teaching Community-Based Learning classes or courses with a community-based learning component. For more information about faculty development opportunities, click here.

  • Essentials of Community-Based Learning Workshop
  • Communities of Practice
  • Community-Based Learning Scholars Program
  • Support in developing courses with a community-engaged component
  • Support in developing courses with a Community-Based Learning designation
  • Community-Based Learning Course Development Grants
  • Community-Based Learning Research Scholar

Community Partnerships Initiative Grants

Through funding from the Frueauff Foundation, these mini-grants provide teams of faculty, students, and community agencies financial support to launch collaborative projects. These collaborative grants will support the development of new programs, increase the effectiveness of current programs, provide opportunities for innovative research and assessment that address the root causes of problems such as homelessness and domestic violence, and support community groups in strategic planning and problem solving. Contact Bob Frigo for more information.

Click here for the Community Partnerships Initiative Faculty Grant Application

Current Community-Based Learning (formerly Academic Service-Learning) and Community Engaged Courses

View a current list of Community-Based Learning and Community Engaged courses being offered


For more information about faculty resources, click here.