Information Item #02- Submitted by the Faculty Affairs Committee      (2014/2015- Feb)

                                                     Service-Learning and Community Engagement Definitions


Revised Definitions forwarded by Faculty Association to Dr. Mark Falbo


Service Learning:


Service-Learning is an experiential teaching method that combines community service with course instruction using critical, reflective thinking to enhance academic rigor and learning outcomes. Service-Learning focuses on giving students credit for learning that is demonstrated through critical analysis on service, not credit for service hours performed. Service-Learning initiatives at UNF engage students in a reciprocal relationship with the community. In this relationship, organized service addresses community identified or recognized needs while each student develops his or her academic skills as well as his or her interest in and sense of responsibility towards the community.  Participating students develop academic and professional skills as well as gain real-world experience and a broader perspective of the outside community. Community based Service-Learning is not only student-centered, but community-centered in that the needs of the community are seen as central and as a key source of learning for the student.

The “S” and the “L” are capitalized to recognize their shared and equal weight while the hyphen signifies that serving and learning are connected and reciprocal.


That is, through community based Service-Learning, students are given the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge in the community and apply them to classroom and other settings as well as help the community through their service.



Community Engagement:


As a public urban university, the University of North Florida is committed to the principle of community and civic engagement. Our mission includes fostering the intellectual and cultural growth and civic awareness of our students, preparing them to make significant contributions to their communities in the region and beyond. At UNF, students and faculty engage collaboratively in the discovery and application of knowledge through mutually beneficial community-based research and learning.


The University of North Florida contributes to the community and region through outreach, educational, research, volunteer, and civic activities. Many of these contributions are recorded in our Community Impact Study. Equally important, the university derives benefits from the diverse range of resources, perspectives, and opportunities that exist in our community and region.


The university hopes to further deepen and institutionalize its commitment to community engagement through its Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) titled “Community-Based Transformational Learning”. The Community-Based Transformational Learning document submitted to SACS in July 2009 can be accessed by clicking here. The QEP is a significant component of the accreditation process of the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools (SACS). The QEP outlines a systematic course of action designed to enhance student learning. UNF’s “Community-Based Transformational Learning” will develop opportunities for students in all academic programs to deepen and enhance student learning by providing students with opportunities to apply their academic skills and knowledge in authentic settings within the local community and beyond.  Students will benefit from experience working with diverse populations and having the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they are taught in their coursework in real-world situations.  The form and design of these community-based learning experiences will vary by discipline and academic program. Community-based transformational learning can take the form of service learning, fieldwork, internships, co-ops, or community-based research. This QEP is a further extension of UNF’s commitment to community engagement. The plan includes the creation of the Center for Community-Based Learning that will support the initiative and provide resources for faculty, students and community partners.