Academically Based Community Service

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.

Course Directories

A service-learning ABCS course may require students to complete a set number of service-learning experience hours per semester, complete a service-learning project, or complete a community-based research project. Service-Learning staff will contact an organization’s volunteer coordinator to determine if the organization’s unmet needs are a match to the ABCS course’s learning objectives. A course syllabus will be provided to the volunteer coordinator. If there is a match, the volunteer coordinator will provide an entry into the course’s service-learning directory including the organization’s name; website address; contact’s name, email and phone number; a short description of the organization, services provided and population served; a short description of the service in which students will provide; if an application process is applicable with a criminal history check; and the days and times of the week that students are needed. A course directory is updated each semester and the site supervisor is required to sign the student’s course learning agreement and validate the student’s service-learning experience at the end of the semester.

Organizations are strongly encouraged to attend the Service-learning Fairs scheduled the second Wednesday of each semester so students and volunteer coordinators can meet each other and discuss a potential placement.

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.