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Key Definitions




Civic Engagement


"Working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes." (Excerpted from Civic Responsibility and Higher Education, edited by Thomas Ehrlich, published by Oryx Press, 2000, Preface, page vi.)



Community-Based Research


“CBR involves the institution with the community in a reciprocal relationship to address a local problem or issue….Generally, faculty work with students to complete CBR projects, but in some cases the work is largely the responsibility of students, and faculty serve only in a supervisory capacity.” (Becoming an Engaged Campus: A Practical Guide for Institutionalizing Public Engagement, Beere et al 2011, pp. 143)



Community Service


This is a hard term because it has such widely varying definitions. See top hits on Google, November 2015:


  • “A punitive sentence that requires a convicted person to perform unpaid work for the community in lieu of imprisonment.”

  • “Voluntary work, intended to be for the common good, usually done as part of an organized scheme.”



Engaged Scholarship


  • Engaged Scholarship involves each of the following:

    • The work relates to the faculty member’s disciplinary expertise.

    • The work reflects knowledge of the relevant professional literature, theory, and best practices.

    • At the outset, there were clear goals and objectives for the work. All modifications were only made with a clear rationale.

    • Appropriate methods were used. Scholar selected methods according to the field of work and problems to be addressed. Modifications made with care and acknowledgement of consequences.

    • The work makes a significant contribution to the community and/or knowledge base of the discipline. Input from those affected by the work should help determine its relevance and impact.

    • The work was documented, appropriately shared, and evaluated. It does not necessarily need to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, but made available in an appropriate forum.

    • The faculty member critically reflected on the process and product of the work, asking: What can be learned? What worked? What did not? What contributions does this work make? What are the next steps?


(Paraphrased from Becoming and Engaged Campus, Beere et al 2011, pp. 131-32)





“Outreach refers to the provision of programs, services, activities, and/or expertise to those outside of the traditional university community of faculty, staff, and on-campus students. Outreach is one-way, with the university being the provider either on a gratis basis or with an associated charge.” (Becoming and Engaged Campus, Beere et al, 2011, pp. 13-14)



Public Engagement


 “[It] involves a partnership in which there is mutually beneficial, two-way interaction between the university and some entity within the metropolitan region.” (Becoming and Engaged Campus, Beere et al, 2011, p. 14)





“Service learning is a credit-bearing, educational, experience in which students participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility.”


Robert Bringle and Julie Hatcher, “A Service Learning Curriculum for Faculty,” Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, Fall 1995, pp. 112-122

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