University of Iowa

Defining Community Outreach and Engagement

The University of Iowa follows the Carnegie Foundation’s definition of Community Engagement, which provides a foundation for explaining the terms and principles associated with outreach and engagement activities at Iowa. The purpose of providing definitions is not to identify one concept as more important than the next, but rather to help faculty, staff and students better understand how to communicate about their outreach and engagement work.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Describes the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.

The purpose of community engagement is the partnership of university knowledge with those of the public and private sectors to:

Carnegie CEC Seal
  • Enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity
  • Enhance curriculum, teaching and learning
  • Prepare educated, engaged citizens
  • Strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility
  • Address critical societal issues
  • Enhance the quality of life

COMMUNITY

A group of people external to the campus who are affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, similar situation, or shared values. Communities may share characteristics such as age, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.

PARTNERSHIP

A sustained collaboration between institutions of higher education and communities for the mutually beneficial exchange, exploration, and application of knowledge, information, and resources. Examples are research, capacity building, project development and execution around shared goals like economic development, environmental conservation or cultural vitality.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

The application and provision of institutional resources, knowledge or services that directly benefits the community. Examples include artistic performances, workshops and speeches at rotary clubs or other community organizations.

COMMUNITY-ENGAGED TEACHING/LEARNING

A pedagogical approach that connects students and faculty with activities that address community-identified needs through mutually beneficial partnerships that deepen students' academic and civic learning. Examples are service- learning courses or service-learning clinical practicums.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “COMMUNITY-ENGAGED LEARNING” AND “SERVICE LEARNING"

With service learning, faculty, students, and community partners tend to limit student engagement to direct service activities (e.g. tutoring youth, serving meals to the homeless, cleaning up a community garden). While direct service is one important type of community engagement, community-engaged learning is a broader, more inclusive term that reflects more ways that people engage with their communities. These strategies range from direct service to advocacy to research to philanthropy and more.

Key components of service learning often are:

It enhances the understanding of course content and is tied to specific learning goals through consciously designed reflection.

One of the learning goals is civic engagement, intended to enhance students' sense of personal responsibility to participate in the public realm to address current pressing social problems, and thus going beyond the academic or skill-based goals of the course.

It develop a reciprocal relationship through which the experiential activities are planned and implemented through a collaboration with a community partner so that the coursework meets needs specifically identified by that partner.

COMMUNITY-ENGAGED SCHOLARSHIP (CES)

The creation and dissemination of knowledge and creative expression in furtherance of the mission and goals of the university and in collaboration with the community. Community-engaged scholarship addresses community needs through research, teaching, and service in a mutually beneficial partnership. The quality and impact of CES is determined by academic peers and community partners.

COMMUNITY-ENGAGED RESEARCH

A collaborative process between the researcher and community partner that creates and disseminates knowledge and creative expression with the goal of contributing to the discipline and strengthening the well-being of the community.

COMMUNITY-BASED RESEARCH

Research that takes place in community settings and involves community members in the design and implementation of research projects, demonstrates respect for the contributions of success that are made by community partners, and respects the principle of “doing no harm” to the communities involved.

COMMUNITY-ENGAGED SERVICE

The application of one's professional expertise that addresses a community-identified need and supports the goals and mission of the university and the community. Community-engaged service may entail the delivery of expertise, resources and services to the community.