At the CCE, we define “community engagement” as Collaborative efforts to invest in the common good, contributing to the quality of life and shared democratic futures of communities within and beyond campus. Community engagement can include direct service, but it can also include other forms of engagement. We encourage you to think expansively and intentionally about the types of work that you consider community engagement, and what strategies of collective action you’d like to use to affect social change. Below, we articulate some of the core forms of community engagement that we honor.
If you have questions about whether or not work you are interested in “counts” as community engagement for the CCE program you are involved in (CES, CEL, or Bonner), please set up a conversation with CCE staff and we can decide together if it’s a good fit for your commitments.
If you are looking for ways to engage but are not sure where to begin, check out our "Pathways to Engagement" section on the CCE Student Hub webpage!
Supporting Community-Identified Social, Environmental Needs
- Direct and Indirect Service: Working to address the needs of individuals, communities, organizations, or ecosystems. Direct service involves contact with the people or places being served, and indirect service is the behind-the-scenes work of supporting the organizations or structures that serve populations.
- Project-Based Engagement: Skilled work with a clear beginning, end, and outcome that contributes to more ongoing efforts (e.g. creative works such as a video or brochure, collaborating on an event, etc.).
Organizing People to Mobilize Change
- Community Organizing: Building power toward collective action by organizing individuals affected by an issue into collectives (organizations, associations, collectives) with a shared vision and shared work. Process of establishing groups is both a means and an end; the agenda of the group is co-created inductively.
- Identity Organizing: Political activity and organizing grounded in the shared experiences of injustice of members of social groups that aim to secure the political freedom, self-determination, and value of a marginalized constituency (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Changing Culture (Ideas, Perspectives, Knowledge)
- Storytelling Initiatives: Efforts to witness and share narratives and lived experiences of the impacts of injustice, social problems, or grassroots solutions; often aims to center marginalized voices, narratives, and forms of knowledge (e.g. blog, historical research, contribution to news outlets, storytelling events, etc.)
- Contributing to the “Public Sphere”: Contribute to public dialogue or discourse on important issues through communication or creative efforts (e.g op-ed, radio show, artistic expression, theater)
- Dialogue and Education: Efforts to learn together and from one another, and educate others and ourselves about shared issues, injustice, collective solutions and individual changes to work toward change.
- Community-Engaged Research: Public-problem solving, producing applied knowledge that is relevant to social change and disseminated directly to those who can act on the information.
Changing Political Systems
- Policy and Governance: Participating in political processes, policymaking, and public governance. (E.g. political research to inform policymaking, get out the vote efforts, or participation in political decision-making)
- Activism, Protest, and Social Movements: Working to mobilize collective action to promote or resist change in society. Often involves efforts to raise awareness or consciousness of a shared grievance, or express dissent against a decision or change. Often has a political goal, but can also seek to change culture.
- Social Entrepreneurship: Seeking to use innovative market-based business models (nonprofit and for profit) to solve pressing social and environmental problems
Community engagement may be provided directly or indirectly, meaning the work can be done directly with other people or can be project-based. These projects should be designed to assist an organization with other activities, like writing a press release or preparing a curriculum, and these activities may be facilitated through a student-initiated project or CC student organization. We strongly encourage students to engage with a High Impact Partner site!