Community-Based Transformational Learning
UNF students, faculty and staff maintain a longstanding and ongoing commitment to active community engagement. In 2009 the University adopted a Quality Enhancement Plan that focuses on creating more Community-Based Transformational Learning (CBTL) experiences for its students. Through CBTL, students are able to practice and apply their academic skills to solve authentic, real-world problems that address community-articulated needs.
The University works hard to maintain strong community partnerships and create enriching CBTL experiences for its students. In 2010, UNF received The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's Community Engagement Classification. This classification acknowledges UNF's commitment to community engagement as well as its effort to improve teaching and learning strategies through community-based projects.
The Center for Community-Based Learning
The Center for Community-Based Learning was established to assist community organizations, faculty and student affairs professionals in creating and maintaining CBTL opportunities. The staff at the Center works with UNF faculty and student affairs professionals to develop learning opportunities that fit both the needs of the community and the student.
Specifically, the Center for Community-Based Learning is here to:
- help cultivate partnerships between community-based organizations and UNF faculty, staff and students with complementary interests;
- mentor UNF faculty and staff through the development, implementation, and assessment phases of CBTL projects;
- provide best practice guidelines for the implementation of community partnerships;
- direct staff and faculty to the appropriate UNF policies and procedures necessary for community-based projects;
- provide facilitation for partners in cases where conflict resolution is required; and
- help ensure long-term sustainability of CBTL projects and partnerships when appropriate.
Before contacting the Center for Community-Based Learning, please consider what type of opportunity will best meet your organization’s needs. Do you need student volunteers for a one-time event? Would you like a consistent volunteer on a weekly or monthly basis? Are you seeking a team of students for a short-term project? Do you require students with some experience in a particular field or set of skills? Can you provide an opportunity for a class or small group of students who are engaged as part of an academic course? These questions are important to think about when creating meaningful experiences for both the community members and students.
The staff at the Center works hard to maintain contact with community members on a regular basis. While UNF's community engagement efforts grow, input from both community and university members is important. One way the Center facilitates on going communication between the community and university is through an annual Community Engagement Participant Summit.
Types of Community Opportunities
At the University of North Florida, students become engaged in the community in five particular ways. Please click on the links for a better understanding of how these five experiences look in the community.
For information about other opportunities, please visit the links to your right.
Benefits to the Community
Working with students on CBTL experiences provides community organizations with the following benefits:
- new energy and creativity;
- capacity building;
- ability to strengthen existing services;
- UNF resources;
- an opportunity to gain more volunteers;
- an opportunity to educate about community issues and work to address them; and
- assistance with research, program evaluation and assessment.
Helpful Tips for Working with UNF Students
- Students have demanding and changing schedules. Many are involved in athletics, co-curricular activities, or work part-time in addition to their studies. For assistance in planning events around the university calendar please visit the following link for the 2017-2018 matriculation calendar.
- Consider how you can assist students to work successfully with your organization. While many students are from Jacksonville area, some are from other areas of Florida or other states. If the specific opportunity you offer requires special skills, knowledge or requires any preliminary activities, such as a background check, consider offering an orientation or training session.
- If you hope to work with a particular faculty or staff member, initiate early contact to allow for ample planning time. It is best to request students for larger curricular-based projects a couple of months prior to the start of the semester so that the project can be discussed with the teaching faculty and written into the syllabus.
- Remember that you are a co-educator in this process. Become involved in the teaching and mentoring of students at your site.
Please contact the Center for Community-Based Learning at (904) 620-3545 or email us for more information.