Learning Through Serving

The Office of Community Based Learning supports faculty efforts to effectively integrate service-learning, community-based research, and class-community exchanges into their courses in order to provide students with exceptional learning opportunities solving real-world problems at the local, state, national, and international levels. Our office utilizes a community-centered, needs-based approach to ensure all projects prioritize the wellbeing of the organizations and groups with whom we partner.

What is community-based learning? And who benefits?

Community-based learning (CBL) is a pedagogical strategy that combines academic coursework with community engagement by leveraging mutually-beneficial partnerships between a class and public organization or group to solve community-identified problems. CBL can include, but is not limited to service-learning, community-based research, and class-community exchanges.

  • Service-Learning is a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and development. Reflection and reciprocity are key concepts of service-learning.
    -Jacoby, Barbara. 1996. Service Learning in Higher Education: Concepts and Practices. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Community-Based Research is a powerful model of engaged scholarship in which students, faculty, and community members collaborate on research to solve pressing community problems or effect social change.
    -Stanford University Hass Center for Public Service
  • Class-Community Exchanges are meetings between classes and community organizations where students gain a better understanding of an organization’s mission and operations and, where applicable, begin to identify future pathways for collaboration on a service-learning and/or community-based research project.

Read About CBL Projects

CBL benefits all stakeholders. Students gain a deeper understanding of course content, learn to apply theory to practice, cultivate a sense of civic responsibility, develop critical soft skills, and are empowered to solve community problems. Community partners benefit from the effort and knowledge of student volunteers in ways that augment existing programs and services, as well as help them to add new ones; enhance their organizational capacity; expand their long-term volunteer pool; and develop relationships with faculty members and a broader College community who can contribute relevant expertise and experience as needed. Finally, faculty enjoy utilizing interactive teaching methods, can demonstrate real world application of their course content to students, are able to significantly impact the surrounding community, and can develop scholarship related to community engagement.

For More Information

Students who are interested in enrolling in a course with a CBL project that fits their interests may email cbl@lycoming.edu, or for a course with a guaranteed CBL component every semester, enroll in CEAE 220 Civic Engagement.