Academic Community-Engaged Learning

Faculty Special Topics Series

2019-2020 marked the launch of a Special Topics Series for faculty practitioners of academic community-engaged learning (CEL) at MSU. Academic CEL combines coursework with the application of institutional resources to address community needs and challenges. Implementation strategies range from direct service to advocacy to research to philanthropy, and more. Special Topics sessions focused on course design examples, community partnerships, developing syllabi, managing logistics, and orienting students to enter a community with knowledge of identity, equity, and privilege. They also highlighted diverse reflection strategies. Through presentation and discussion, attendees learned how to get started or enhance existing efforts and were connected to a network of peers and resource supports. Five sessions were offered during the academic year, with 91 faculty and staff participants.


Student Reflection Workshops

The Center for Community Engaged Learning offered power and privilege reflection workshops for students, titled “Situated Spartan,” that provided students with knowledge, behaviors, and skills to engage more effectively with people in their community engagement settings and beyond. Students explored concepts such as identity development, culture, socialization, power, and privilege. These workshops were adapted to the virtual environment in the Spring 2020 semester by offering synchronous facilitation through Zoom, and an asynchronous recorded option for the interactive workshop. Additional facilitated student workshops included Asset-Based Community Engagement and the Elements of Community Partnerships. In total, 16 reflection workshops were hosted for 574 students over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year.


Notable Numbers

14,297 Number of student registrations

students registered across campus in academic CEL experiences

Student survey of community-engaged learners:


reported improved critical thinking about issues


reported they learned about cultures different from their own


reported an improved understanding of how communities and/or cities function


reported they critically reflected on their own values and biases


reported improved written and verbal communication and problem-solving skills


Transportation assistance/breaking down barriers to CEL

With generous financial assistance from Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, the Center for Community Engaged Learning:



driver ambassadors



shuttle vans



student riders


With generous financial assistance from Capital Area Transportation Authority:


CATA bus tokens were distributed to student volunteers


Community partners


community partners worked with academic CEL staff

Placements Focused On:

  • Community administration
  • Community nutrition
  • Education
  • Health and wellness
  • Human services
  • Pre-school and day care
  • Recreation leadership
  • Seniors
  • Hospitals
  • Youth mentoring

Top Colleges for Student Registrations in CEL Courses


Social Science






Human Medicine