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Community Engaged Leadership Certificate


The Community Engaged Leadership (CEL) Certificate Program develops civic leaders by cultivating students’ ability to integrate and apply learning toward solving complex social challenges. The program aims to focus students’ academic studies and co-curricular experiences toward a capstone project that culminates their college experience and impacts the common good.

Program Component Overview

This multi-year, cohort-based program guides students through the following phases*. To receive the certificate, students progress through the following sequence:

  1. Phase One (Sophomore Year): Identifying unmet community-driven needs through academic exploration and community experience.
    • Exploration - 2 foundation courses** that explore in depth the causes, consequences, history, or context of a social problem.
    • Experience - An ongoing commitment (min. 75 hours) to community engagement in an intentional effort to identify unmet community needs through experiential learning.
  2. Phase Two (Junior Year): Focusing commitments and skills toward one social issue through experiential learning in leadership roles and deliberate academic capacity building.
    • Focus - Serve as a leader of an engaged campus organization or initiative (existing or new), or take on a leadership role in a community organization or campaign through assuming increased responsibility (min. 75 hour commitment).
    • Capacity Building - Take a course** that increases students’ understanding of how to affect social change through either giving them skills to assess needs and solve community problems, or through teaching broader strategies and models of social change.
  3. Phase Three (Senior Year): Integrating and applying experiential and curricular learning toward solving complex social challenges through a capstone project with a public purpose.
    • Implement a capstone project over the course of their senior year (min. 75 hours) that takes the form of a community-engaged signature work -- a “culminating experience -- or a signature work -- in which students synthesize their knowledge and skills across general education, majors, the cocurriculum, and off-campus study, applying what they know and can do to important, unscripted real-world problems” (Hoy and Wolfe 2016).

Phases are “book-ended”  by periods of planning and reflection in collaboration with the CCE's director, in which students create written plans of action at the beginning of the year and papers that summarize and defend how they fulfilled each component of the phase at the end of the year.  These two summative papers, along with the write up of the Capstone project, collectively form a CEL Portfolio that can be used to help demonstrate and articulate one’s commitment to the common good and ability to affect change.

*For each program component, students will use the Summit platform to submit courses and experiences to the CCE Director and a committee of their peers for approval of each step.

**At least one course used to fulfill the expectations of the CEL program must have a CBL component. CBL courses must fit within the parameters of the CBL designation, as specified by the CCE, but do not need to have been officially tagged as CBL Students may appeal for courses they will or have taken to fulfill this program component.

Cohort Model

Students progress through the program as a cohort, are are expected to meet with this cohort of peers twice blockly.  In these meetings, they engage in a curriculum co-designed by the CCE Director and students, the goal of which mirrors the program components delineated above.

To hold all students accountable to the cohort, students commit to attending all meetings, or in their absence contribute to an online discussion in writing.  Students who do not actively and regularly participate to the cohort in person (or writing, if abroad or unable to attend due to class commitments) will be asked to leave the program.

In addition to group meetings, CEL participants will be paired into mentor/mentee relationships to facilitate informal relationship building and to offer students additional support and guidance through the program.  Mentor/mentee pairs are expected to informally meet at least once blockly, and encouraged to do so through shared community engagement experiences.


Capstones proposals will be presented to and workshopped by the entire CEL cohort at the end of a participant’s junior year.  Participants will also identify a faculty Capstone Adviser by the end of their junior year who is willing to support the project and meet with the student blockly during their senior year.  At the beginning of their senior year, students will formally propose a capstone project in writing and then will publicly share their capstone project to the campus and wider community at the end of the year.

If funding is needed to implement the project, students may apply for up to $1,000 funding from the CCE, supported by an endowment from the Boettcher Foundation.  .


If these components are fulfilled, the commitments and achievements of graduating students will be celebrated and honored through a final capstone celebration, a signed certificate endorsed by the Dean’s Office, and graduation stoles.