Academically Based Community Service (ABCS)

Academically Based Community Service

The Center for Civic Engagement employs a wide range of programs and pedagogies to engage students, faculty and staff, and community partners in addressing community identified unmet needs through service, civic-related research, and social change leadership. Programs and experiences are grounded in authentic learning and experiential learning theory thus, capitalizing on two key components of critical reflection and reciprocity. Critical reflection allows all participants to foster learning and development and to make meaning of their experiences in context of their discipline, and personal and professional goals. Through reciprocity every participant functions as a teacher and a learner.

Academically Based Community Service integrates community service or community-based research with academic learning. Research and best practices in higher education clearly demonstrates that academic service-learning enhances university community partnerships, contributes to a discipline’s scholarship of engagement and strengthens students’ knowledge, skills and experiences in addressing real world issues.

ABCS are

  • Rooted in service and intrinsically linked to teaching and research.
  • Reciprocal and mutually beneficial partnerships between UNL and community organizations.
  • Authentic and focused on problem-solving research and teaching.
  • Transformational which promotes learning through service.
  • Emphasizes student and faculty reflection on the service experience.
  • Developmental in fostering structural community improvement including effective public schools, neighborhood development, and community organizations.
  • Local, regional, national or international.

ABCS courses should be designed to:

  • Engage students in community service experience and/or community-based research activity that is integrated in the academic curriculum.
  • Have specific service-learning outcomes which meet a community identified unmet need as identified by community leaders.
  • Create partnerships between faculty and community leaders.
  • Requires systematic and regular reflection, allowing students to apply course concepts to real world issues synthesize the service-learning experiences allowing for deeper learning leading to critical thinking.
  • Prepare and train students for their work in the community as well as to educate students on the social issue in which students are serving.
  • Evaluate the impact of experiences on student learning and the community.
  • Faculty and staff can use the UNL SERVE Model in creating new courses or community-based research experiences. As you plan, implement, reflect, evaluate and celebrate, the SERVE (link to SERVE Model) Model is an excellent tool to ensure that all service-learning components are met.

Community-Based Research

Community-based research is a collaborative partnership between university faculty (researchers), students, and community organizations working together to address a documented public need or issue which will generate social action and social change through the use of multiple knowledge sources and research methods.

The research questions originate from the community and the process should allow for meaningful participation by community partners at all levels of research, including defining the questions and methods, implementing the research, and dissemination and application of the findings.

Community members become part of the research team and researchers become engaged in the activities of the community. Student researchers, under the guidance of a faculty advisor and in collaboration with a community organization, identify a project, adopt and deploy research methodology embedded in an academic field(s), create a research product (paper, presentation, etc.) that benefits the community organization and meets the expectations of academic rigor.

Example of community-based research may include but are not limited to: longitudinal assessments; program evaluation; needs assessments; benchmark data collection; and trend analysis.

Community Learning Centers-UNL Partnership

Vision Statement

 The Community Learning Center (CLC)-University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) partnership addresses unmet needs of students, families and neighborhoods to improve to improve their quality of life.

 CLC and UNL partners are committed to developing a process which recognizes, values and leverages the collective strengths and assets of all stakeholders. The process builds relationships which result in a shared understanding of practices which lead to:

 High Impact Learning

  • Sequence and scaffolding of projects
  • Reflective
  • Collaborative and Responsive
  • Integrated
  • Dialogue and Coaching Model

High Impact Community Engagement

  • Capacity Building
  • Community Voice in defining needs, assets, and projects
  • Depth and Continuous
  • Teams which involve multiple participants

 High Impact Results

  • Evidence Based
  • Strategies for evaluation and measurement