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What does community-based learning look like?

Community-based learning is a form of experiential learning directly connects students with the broader community and neighborhoods of which Augsburg is a part. Individual students and whole classes connect to community organizations through various means, including field trips, guest speakers, research, service learning, and public impact projects. These deliberately chosen experiences are guided by principles of mutual benefit for students and the community, are designed collaboratively with campus and community partners, and are based in deep and ongoing relationships with individuals and community groups. All community-based learning requires students to engage in meaningful reflection on their experiences.

 

Field Trips

A professor may plan a field trip for her course to a local organization or site so that students can experience first hand a context that might be referenced in class. Such a trip may offer opportunities to host discussions with local experts, understand an applied context, and to stimulate questions that may not otherwise occur to students in the classroom setting.

Examples

Religion classes tour houses of worship of different faith traditions, with tours conducted by practitioners of those traditions, some of which are in the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood nearby to campus. These visits are followed by in-class discussion and a comparative reflection paper that prompts students to reflect on the visit as well the connection between visit themes and their own experience.

Students from a food science class visit a nearby beekeeping company who keep urban hives to learn about the science of honey production and about the economy of urban farming.

Guest Speakers

Guests from the local community may visit a relevant class session to share their experience and insight and engage in discussion with students.

Example

An organizer from a local labor rights organization visits a history class focused on 20th-century American labor rights movements.

Research

Research that is conducted as a partnership between traditionally trained “experts” and members of the community for the benefit of both.

Example

A group of students in a business course collaborate closely with a local youth social enterprise to do market research and develop a marketing plan. While the social enterprise ends up with a functional marketing plan that they can now implement, the students have learned applied skills for research and developing an end-product for a customer’s use while building connections with a community-based organization with connections to Augsburg and significant local impact.

Service Learning

Sometimes used interchangeably with community-based learning, service learning is a specific kind of learning activity in which students participate in and reflect on a service-oriented activity in the community. This may be a one-time “service project” experience, but more commonly involves ongoing involvement by the student in a community organization over the course of a semester (usually at least 20 hours). The activity is directly related to course content, and benefits the community.

Example

As part of the class, a student in an Social Work 100 class signs up to regularly serve meals to the after school program at Brian Coyle Community Center with the Campus Kitchen program.

Public Impact Project

Public impact projects are sustained experiences that integrate meaningful public engagement that is mutually beneficial to students and the community. Instruction and reflection in a community context enriches course content, teaches civic responsibility, builds community capacity and relationships, and often connects to university-wide community engagement initiatives.

Example

Students from Design+Agency, Augsburg’s embedded design studio, create design solutions for a variety of local non-profits and civic projects.

Interfaith Scholars collaborate with community members to put together monthly interfaith gatherings in the Cedar Commons space.