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Community-Based Learning

2016-2017 Exemplary Achievement in Community-Engaged Teaching

This award honors a faculty member who has artfully woven academic scholarship with rigorous community-based work in transformative and innovative ways. Recipients of this award encourage students to make powerful connections between theory and practice, support the development of civic-skill building and civic identity, and prepare liberal arts students to serve as change agents in a complex and challenging world. It was our pleasure to work with many amazing faculty members this year to support community-based learning and research opportunities, so this was a difficult decision.

Recipient: Christina Leza, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Race, Ethnicity and Migration Studies

Here is an excerpt from Christina's nomination:

Christina’s deep involvement bespeaks veritably miracles of time management and balancing, particularly when her role as a preschooler’s parent is taken into account. As with many faculty with such high levels of involvement, Christina is compelled by intrinsic motivations, and a sense of urgency. Meanwhile, she has gained reputation as a valued, diplomatic-but-incisive voice around a variety of campus tables. In addition to bringing so many to campus, her commitment to getting students out there to do fieldwork, and to teaching students the tools of her field, to careful gathering and analysis of empirical audio, visual, semiotic and symbolic data, are well balanced by historically sensitive attention to romanticizing and racializing responses to cross-cultural encounters. At the same time, her focus on expressive cultural and technological media – with special interests in performance, film, websites, museums – have tremendous appeal for students.

What is Community-Based Learning?

Community-Based Learning is experiential education that simultaneously – and in roughly equal balance – promotes student learning and meets community needs.  CBL courses aim to benefit both students and communities through:

  1. directing education toward the pursuit of co-creating solutions to complex social challenges and in so doing impacting the public good; and
  2. actively developing engaged citizenship knowledge, skills, and motivation to empower students to build the worlds they imagine.

Criteria of the Community-Based Learning (CBL) tag

To be tagged as CBL, the course must minimally meet criteria 1 and 2. Criteria 3 and 4 are strongly encouraged as best practice.


  • The course incorporates an experience or project that directly interacts with, and benefits, communities beyond the campus. This community component may include an experience that seeks to address a mutually-defined community need and/or a research project that seeks to co-create solutions to complex social challenges. 
  • Community-based work is an integral component of the course, enhancing and enhanced by knowledge from the curriculum. The course provides structured opportunities for students to learn from the experience, and academic assessment evaluates this learning; credit is not given solely for participation in community work.

Strongly Encouraged

  • Community-based experiences are co-created, designed, and implemented by professors and community partners, guided by both learning goals and community-driven needs.    
  • The coursework and experience aim to equip students with engaged citizenship skills, knowledge and identity development to build their capacity to influence the common good – both during their undergraduate experience and throughout their lives.

Why tag your course?

Tagging your course as CBL enables the CCE to:

  • Promote engaged teaching through publicizing CBL courses to students in addition to institutionalizing incentives for students to enroll in CBL courses.
  • Honor and celebrate engaged teaching by sharing course models and outcomes through CCE networks as well as campus-wide and off-campus publications.
  • Share CBL courses as models to targeted, interested faculty to promote and enhance the use of the CBL pedagogy.
  • Enable us to gather data on faculty interests, partnerships, and projects so that we can share opportunities and resources (conferences, articles, awards) as well as make connections (between faculty, staff, students, and partners) in a targeted fashion.
  • Gather data on existing partnerships in an effort to inform a strategic process of partnership development – deepening existing partnerships and identifying gaps.
  • Gather more input on how we can better support faculty moving forward.

Ready to apply for a tag? Click here!

Questions? Ideas? Contact Dr. Jordan Travis Radke at