What is community-engaged learning?

Community-engaged learning can take many forms, one of which is service learning, which brings together the citizens of Indianapolis and the students, faculty, and staff at IUPUI to improve people’s lives locally and beyond.

Incorporating service learning and other community engagement techniques into your classroom can be immensely rewarding.

Let's look at how to get started with service learning, and why community-engaged learning is beneficial.

How to get started

Connect with the Center for Service & Learning

The IUPUI Center for Service and Learning offers multiple resources to help create a service learning course, where you can plan for your students to participate in a project with a local organization that helps them achieve the desired learning outcomes and betters the community.

You can:

  • Learn the fundamentals of community project planning.
  • Choose the right kind of service learning course.
  • Learn the basics of syllabus design.
  • Find funding sources.
  • Take a workshop.
  • Get a consultation.
  • Get help with course assessment.
Learn more about the Center for Service and Learning

Resources for faculty teaching service learning

Communities of practice

The Center for Service and Learning has organized several community of practice programs that focus on specific topics within service learning.

The groups support faculty and staff promoting service learning and civic engagement throughout the IUPUI campus.

Learn more about communities of practice

Center for Teaching and Learning

The IUPUI Center for Teaching and Learning advances IUPUI’s commitment to teaching excellence by collaborating with faculty, schools, and departments to enhance student learning and to support faculty development.

A wide range of programs, events, workshops and services foster innovation in teaching, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and the translation of education research into local practice.

Find faculty resources

The Forum Network

The Forum Network supports faculty collaboration and creativity by providing resources to spark innovation in teaching and research.

That includes community engagement and building partnerships to strengthen communities.

Check out more resources

Helping students succceed

Community-engaged learning also ties in with the best practices for student success.

That includes the IUPUI RISE initiative, which is meant to engage students more deeply in their learning and contribute to their intellectual and professional development in unique ways, including service learning.

In addition, the IUPUI Profiles of Learning for Undergraduate Success, IUPUI+, emphasizes engagement with the community as a means to deepen disciplinary learning and refine what it means to be a well-rounded, well-educated person prepared for lifelong learning.


Why get involved

Engaging with the community

Through community-engaged learning, students engage with the community to address societal needs that residents identify, co-creating solutions with those community partners.

For example, a series of neighborhood discussions organized by IUPUI uncovered a need amongst senior citizens for education on how to use new technology, including apps, Smartphones and social media.

As a result, IUPUI students studying for future careers in information technology are spending time each week at local community centers, helping senior citizens learn technology, and gaining experience in their future career field.

Read more about the course

Mutually beneficial partnerships

Our partnerships can't just benefit us; they need to benefit our partners, too. That is a key part of community-engaged learning: clearly laid out benefits for all those involved. 

The Center for Earth and Environmental Science (CEES) at IUPUI, strives to bring together faculty from different academic backgrounds to discuss complex issues and pursue grants, and supports research that crosses traditional science boundaries, facilitates science-based decision-making, and feeds science education programing.

Through multiple projects in the community, the center is working to address key community issues, such as water quality and drainage.

Read more about CEES

Researching key issues

A Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI researcher never expected the impact her 2015 study about the changes in life expectancy based on where people live would have.

But years later, that study and the issues it uncovered about inequality in public health have spurred multiple projects by faculty, staff and students across campus.

Read more about the study's impacts