Design or refine community-engaged courses, research projects, and programs

Community Priority Categories

The Ginsberg Center consults regularly with U-M faculty, instructors, 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.

In response to the Covid-19 Crisis, we are offering virtual consultations, workshops, and Community of Practice gatherings. In addition, we have compiled ideas and resources to adapt your community-engaged course for virtual instruction.    

To schedule a consultation or workshop, complete our Support Request Form or contact us at [email protected]. Join our Academic Partner mailing list to stay informed about upcoming events and opportunities!  



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.

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.

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...


  • 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 digital resource, “Best Practices for Community-Engaged Teaching
  • We would be glad to support your course design process. You can request a consultation by completing our Support Request Form or contacting us at [email protected].

The current crises facing our communities and country highlights the critical necessity for having all of our interests represented by elected officials and governing bodies.

  • 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. 



Consider crafting assignments around the following resources based on the community engagement focus of your course, research or program.  

  • Explore our journal, The Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning
  • 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 our annotated bibliography on assessing student learning.