The Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning

Opportunities for academic involvement from a community-defined priority. For an accessible version of this image, please use this link:

The Ginsberg Center consults regularly with faculty, staff, and graduate students who are designing new, or refining existing, community-engaged courses or research. Our consultations offer best practices for community engagement, informed not only by the growing field of community-engaged scholarship but also by suggestions from numerous conversations with our community partners.

To schedule a consultation or workshop, complete our Support Request Form or contact us at

What is community-engaged scholarship?

The Ginsberg Center uses the term community-engaged scholarship to describe any scholarly endeavor -- courses, research, service, or other learning experiences -- that puts community-defined needs at its center. Community-engaged scholarship describes a hands-on experience within a community that has several key components:

  • Addresses societal needs not currently being fully met by other sectors
  • Produces reciprocal benefits for community partners, campus partners, and students
  • Intentionally integrates community-based needs and academic learning objectives
  • Prepares students for engagement and promotes ongoing reflection and/or critical analysis
  • Interrogates structures of inequality and questions the distribution of power
  • Supports the development of a lifelong commitment to civic engagement

Community partners are active participants in the process of identifying needs and developing appropriate interventions and projects to address these needs. Faculty, staff, and, students work in collaboration with community partners to consider the impact on communities before, during, and after community engagement.

Why should you implement community-engaged scholarship?

Community-engaged scholarship is a high impact practice. Evidence shows that participation in these activities has the greatest positive impact on students' academic success, graduation rates, personal and interpersonal development, and other measures of learning (NSSE 2008).

High impact practices induce student behaviors that lead to meaningful learning outcomes (Kuh 2008):

  • Investing time and effort
  • Interacting with faculty and peers about substantive matters
  • Experiencing diversity
  • Responding to more frequent feedback
  • Reflecting and integrating learning
  • Discovering relevance of learning through real-world applications

Community-engaged scholarship engages faculty, staff, students, and community partners in broader civic and social engagement efforts, promoting a lifelong commitment to civic engagement.

Further Reading: Fitzgerald, H. E., Bruns, K., Sonka, S. T., & Furco, A. (2012). The Centrality of Engagement in Higher Education. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 16(3), 7–27.

What are examples at the University of Michigan?

We have gathered examples from across the University that show how your peers are supporting UM's mission of serving the public good while advancing their scholarship and supporting student learning. You can browse a range of collborations, courses, research projects, student partnerships, and other projects designed to share expertise.

The FAQs below highlight key ideas and additional resources for your community-engaged efforts.


How can I...


Design my course to allow both university and community partners to get what they need?

  • Exchange information with community partners about goals, desired outcomes, students’ learning, and capacity.
  • Be conscious of not promising more than you can deliver.
  • Agree on expectations between yourself, partner(s) and students, including communication preferences and how conflicts will be resolved.
  • Provide structured support for students before they work with community partners to develop required skills to minimize potential harm to communities.
  • Proactively discuss how community partners would prefer to be recognized and compensated for their time and cooperation.
  • To learn more, review our online resource, “Best Practices for Community-Engaged Teaching” or request a consultation by completing our Support Request Form or contacting us at

Design my online community-engaged course to allow both university and community partners to get what they need?

Get the word out to students about my community-engaged course?

  • We can share your upcoming community-engaged course on our website and biweekly student newsletter that reaches thousands of students. 
  • To list your course, please fill out this form. 

Assess student learning?


Get support and feedback on my community-engaged teaching, research, or program?

  • Attend one of our upcoming workshops.
  • Register for the Ginsberg Center's Institute for Community-Driven Practice.
    • The Institute is a a training program designed for faculty and staff to explore principles of community engagement and begin integrating community engagement into their own curriculum and training.

  • Request a one-on-one consultation with a Ginsberg Center staff member,

Reference current research to inform my teaching and research?

  • Explore the selected bibliography from our journal, MJCSL.
  • Some additional references to get you started:
    • Howe, C. W., Coleman, K., Hamshaw, K., & Westdijk, K. (2014). Student Development and Service-Learning: A Three-Phased Model for Course Design. The International Journal of Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement, 2(1), pp. 44-62.
    • Jacoby, B. (2014). Service-learning essentials questions, answers, and lessons learned. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
    • Mitchell, T. D. (2008). Traditional vs. critical service-learning: engaging the literature to differentiate two models. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 14(2), 50-65.

Explore funding opportunities to support my community-engaged efforts?