Course Development and Scholarship

Community Engagement/Service Learning Course Development and Design

Any faculty member can choose to implement a community engagement project/assignment in a class. A course does not need to have been previously identified “service learning” or “community engaged." The CCE supports all faculty who are interested in implementing a project – and any course can be loaded into the CalStateS4 system to assist faculty with student placements and community partnerships.

For individual consultations and assistance with implementing service learning and community engagement, please email Emily Chow, Senior Coordinator, Center for Community Engagement

Please CLICK HERE for our faculty handbook which covers how to design courses, manage placement/partnerships, prepare students, and develop faculty scholarship. [or use this full link ]

To ensure strong communication with students, syllabi in community engaged courses should include:

  • A definition of community engagement or service learning and an explanation of how or why this type of learning activity is important to the course or discipline
  • A description of the community engagement or service learning activities and how they connect to community needs
  • Identification of time commitment or requirement (if relevant)
  • Instructions for the placement process, including finding/contacting partners, confirming placement, logging hours.
  • Identification of course materials that connect community and course learning
  • An articulation of student learning outcomes relevant to the community engagement/service learning activity (e.g. civic learning, social responsibility, social justice, equity, sustainability) or that demonstrate the connection between community and course learning
  • Identification of assignments that connect community and course learning (e.g. reflections, papers, presentations, discussions)
  • Explanation of any assessment tied to community engagement or service learning activity or assignments

Campus Compact hosts an archive of sample syllabi available at

Loyola University New Orleans has a well organized database by disciple. Click here to open PDFs of sample syllabi. 

Additional Resources:

Ballard, Sharon M., Elmore, Barry. “A Labor of Love: Constructing a Service-Learning Syllabus,” The Journal of Effective Teaching, Vol. 9, No. 3, 2009, 70-76 accessed at

The CCE engages in multiple forms of assessment of our programs, activities, and community partnerships. We also develop tools for faculty to use in assessing student learning and constructing strong community engaged learning experiences. 

Assessing Community Partnerships - Best Practices

Assessing Student Learning - Civic Engagement

Assessing Student Learning - Community Engagement

Cal State East Bay's Overlays of Diversity, Social Justice, and Sustainability directly link to service learning and community engagement acticvities. Please see university resources on assessing overlay courses 

Community Engaged Learning Course Framework - Encompasses community engagement and service learning; developed by the Chancellor's Office and used to apply course attributes.

For additional information on identifying these types of courses and definitions related to this work - please see our About Community Engagement page.

Guidelines for Managing Remote/Virtual Service Learning/Community Engagement  

An MOU must be in place with the community organization(s). Regardless if the service/project is  completed remotely and students are never ‘on site’, all community organizations are required to have an MOU (Agreement) in place with the university if students are in direct contact with an organization or its clients. The MOU helps  establish a safe, respectful, and transparent partnership for the university, faculty,  students, and community organizations.Identify type and frequency of contact the students will be having with organization staff/clients.Identify with students and partners the necessary technology for  student activities (including wifi, communication tools, collaboration platforms,  document types, software) and ensure all have reliable access as needed OR establish clear instructions for students to query and confirm with partners prior to beginning  service. 

Confirm with partners what equipment is needed for students to  complete activities OR prepare clear instructions for students to query and confirm with partners prior to beginning service. (Ex. Will students be expected to use their own phones to engage in public outreach? Remind students about options to block  their number or ask partners how they will protect student information.)
Share communication guidelines with students and  partners. (Ex. Expectations, schedules – what types of communications; between which  stakeholders; how frequently; with what platform/email address; and turn-around  times.) 

Identify with the community partner who will be supervising students and any methods of accountability for service or project management. As relevant, for service  that includes minors, confirm with community partners how students will be supervised and monitored within virtual platforms.
Confirm with partners any travel, in-person/public activities, or face to face meetings that may be required or optional OR prepare clear instructions for  students to query and confirm with partners prior to beginning service. 

Share a project timeline or progress benchmarks with both students and partners (use CalStateS4 Time Log function for student accountability). 


  • All courses that include a community engagement component are automatically  uploaded to CalStateS4 for student and faculty use. Any course not currently in the  system can be uploaded based on instructor request. 
  • Students and faculty of these courses automatically have access with their net id login.
  • CalStateS4 manages the student placement and community partnership processes. It  allows faculty and students to search current “approved” partners (partners with an  MOU in place). 
  • CalStateS4 allows faculty to create a pre-approved partner list for students in their  classes. 
  • CalStateS4 facilitates student requests for non-contracted sites (especially useful as  students are distributed throughout the region currently).
  • CalStateS4 allows faculty to email the partners and placement sites for their students  easily. 
  • CalStateS4 allows faculty to track student progress and activities through its Time Log  function. 
  • CalStateS4 allows students to record hours and confirm hours at the end of the  semester, which means faculty do not have to do any additional reporting. 
  • CCE staff are available to consult directly with faculty on assignments and partnerships. 
  • CCE staff are available to present to your classes on CalStateS4 and the placement  process. 

CalStateS4 - Current Opportunities (Students and Faculty must log in using net id to view)


Class Models for Virtual/Remote CE/SL  

  • Online courses where the service/engagement is ‘on site’ (in-person) with a community organization (partner)
  • Online courses where the service/engagement is completed remotely
  • Face to face courses with remote/online projects
  • Even if the service is completed remotely and students are never ‘on site’, all community organizations are required to have an MOU (Agreement) in place with the university. The MOU helps establish a safe, respectful, and transparent partnership for all stakeholders (university, faculty, students, community organizations).
Common Forms of Virtual/Remote CE/SL Assignments
  • “Work at home” options – Students complete support work for an organization that might have been completed on site in offices, but now is completed at home. This may take the form of on-going weekly work or project-based learning.
    • Managing databases, spreadsheets, contact lists, websites, and social media.
    • Developing resources.
    • Doing research.
  • “Service at home” options – Students engage in actual contact with organization clientele (or the community at large) remotely via phone or web platform. 
    • Support services for organization clientele/the public: call-in services, advice lines, information lines
    • Educational support: workshops, academic coaching, tutoring, mentoring
    • Health services: wellness visits/coaching, fitness coaching
    • Recreational support: creative performances for under-served or isolated populations (ex. performances for senior centers that are livestreamed); theatre games or arts and crafts activities with youth through a web platform
  • Hybrid - Wherein students participate in the above activities with occasional or limited "on site" activities


Virtual/Remote Liability Considerations - 

Liability considerations (additional to standard liability) include but are not limited to: 
  • Technology usage and communication guidelines from university and community partners
  • Privacy guidelines from University (FERPA) and community partner
  • Cal State East Bay student interactions online with minors and student conduct
  • Student access/exposure to privileged information


From the Chancellor's Office Center for Community Engagement:

Slides & Resources from the CO's 3-Part Web Series on Creating Virtual & Remote SL/CE Experiences



The National Association of System Heads (NASH) offers an online module for faculty and universities on creating scalable and equitable high impact teaching and learning practices. HIPS ONLINE


Student Learning Related to Community Engagement

  • Civic engagement within academics refers to the development of the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to make a difference or participate in the civic life of our communities. Through civic learning students develop civic values, such as justice, democratic participation, and inclusion. Civic knowledge includes political and civic processes as well as the related historical contexts. Civic skills include critical thinking, communication, problem solving, among others.  
  • Civic engagement and community engagement  intersect in that community engaged assignments may be used as a method for civic learning. However, not all community engagement integrates civic engagement and not all civic engagement includes community service assignments. Civic engagement assignments may be more project-based and not necessarily in partnership with a community-based organization. Community engaged learning happens within a context of partnership and reciprocity with a community-based organization.
  • The Center for Community Engagement is focused on civic engagement that contains a specific “community facing” component (public dissemination). (See Civic Engagement Projects below.)
  • Civic Engagement Projects (CEP) may be distinguised from community-engaged or service learning in that they don't take place in partnership with or for a community organization (i.e. are not "community based").


  • CEP that intersect with community engagement actively contribute to the common good*  through intentional public dissemination  ("community facing" results) and integrate learning outcomes related to civic engagement, social justice, or social responsibility. 

  • While faculty may assign CEP that do not include public dissemination, the Center for Community Engagement is focused on civic engagement that contains a specific “community facing” component (public dissemination).

    (*Distinguished from private or individual interests, the term “common good” refers to the material, cultural or institutional interests and goals that members of a society have in common that embody sustained mutual respect, e.g. arts, civic engagement, community health/well being, economic development, education, equity, sustainability. Adapted from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.)
Types of Civic Engagement Projects
  • Activism/Advocacy: Organizing to bring about political or social change or to show support for, bring awareness to, or promote a particular cause or policy. (Ex. Black Lives Matter)
  • Civics: Participating in local, state, federal governments. (Ex. Assist a City Council with getting the word out about Zoom council meetings.)
  • Political Engagement: Participating in political processes or campaigns. (Ex. Voter registration)
  • Philanthropy/Fundraising: Collecting resources (e.g., money, food, clothing, etc.) to benefit charitable organizations or agencies.
  • Community Engaged Research: Creating knowledge that strengthens the well-being of the community by working to solve or understand an issue of public concern. (Researching available data on the increase of food bank usage since the onset of the pandemic; presenting that research to local officials or writing an op-ed piece.)
  • Social Entrepreneurship/Social Innovation: Developing/Planning business models, products, or services to address critical social and environmental challenges
Types of Public Dissemination - Faculty may develop the "community facing" component through:
  • social media/public awareness campaigns
  • advocacy campaigns
  • open access resource development (websites, videos, research projects that are posted openly or disseminated widely)
  • research/innovation projects
Public Dissemination Platforms
  • Social Media
  • Signs (lawn and window signs)
  • Public Art/Performance
  • Websites
  • Videos (posted or sent out publicly)

Use the resources available through these organizations to develop lessons, assignments, or research activities for students. 

Digital Citizenship

What is digital citizenship?

Digital Citizenship Rubric 

Think about preparing students for virtual civic engagement with a discussion of the principles of digital citizenship.



Connecting to Congress - Tools and opportunities for connecting with Congressional offices.


Everyday Democracy

Everyday Democracy supports organizing across the country by bringing diverse groups of people together, helping them structure and facilitate community dialogue on pressing issues, and training them to use a racial equity lens to understand longstanding problems and possible solutions.


Facing History and Ourselves

Facing History and Ourselves uses lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate.


Livestream or Watch Supreme Court hearings

What was the case name? The central issue? What were the key arguments outlined by the attorneys? Key questions by the justices? How long did it last? How much of the time was used by attorneys? By the justices? Do you think you could tell whether judges were supportive or skeptical of the arguments being advanced by the attorneys? What were the most interesting lines of questioning you heard? What did you learn about the Court and about oral arguments by viewing?


Issues for Debate  

National Issues Forum - Resources on public deliberation on campuses and within communities.


Pew Research Center

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. We conduct public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social science research. We do not take policy positions.


Street Law

Street Law programs and materials help advance justice by empowering people with the legal and civic knowledge, skills, and confidence to bring about positive change for themselves and others.


The Fulcrum

The Fulcrum is a digital news organization focused exclusively on efforts to reverse the dysfunctions plaguing American democracy. We are nonprofit and nonpartisan. Our original stories, the news we gather from across the country and our opinion forum are all tightly focused on money in politics, redistricting, voting rights, election access, government ethics, civic engagement and the imbalance of powers.

Library of Congress - Civil Rights History Collection  - The activists interviewed for this project belong to a wide range of occupations, including lawyers, judges, doctors, farmers, journalists, professors, and musicians, among others. The video recordings of their recollections cover a wide range of topics within the freedom struggle, such as the influence of the labor movement, nonviolence and self-defense, religious faith, music, and the experiences of young activists. 

Facing History - Resources that explore racism, prejudice, and religious intolerance.

Inclusive Teaching Practices Toolkit  - The Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) has created an Inclusive Teaching Practices Toolkit which supports faculty in creating learning environments where all students feel they belong.

Racial Justice Resources  

Smithsonian Learning Lab Resources: A sample of educational resources available at this link are listed below:

  • National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
  • Smithsonian Latino Center

The Global Oneness Project A library of multimedia stories (films, photo essays, and essays) with curriculum and discussion guides - featuring individuals and communities impacted by climate change, water scarcity, food insecurity, poverty, endangered cultures, migration, and sustainability. 

If students are not in direct service with an external organization or in direct service with an external population, then an agreement (MOU) does not need to be established. For example, students might be creating social media campaigns for an organization, but the faculty member maintains all contact with the organization. If the faculty member discusses the needs with the organization, supports students in their work, and delivers the material to the organization then no MOU would be necessary.

If students are required to visit a public site, then faculty should have students complete a Community Service Field Trip Form. For example, if students will be performing social justice theatre or painting a mural of civil rights leaders in an outdoor public venue, then students should complete a Service Field Trip Form. For access to this form please contact 


Ernest Boyer, former President  of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, wrote one of the seminal works on the scholarship of engagement, "Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professorate" (Jossey Bass 1990). This book is available for loan through the CCE.

Boyer also penned an article in 1996:

Boyer, Ernest. "The Scholarship of Engagement," Boyer, E. (1996). "The scholarship of engagement." Journal of Public Service and Outreach, 1(1), 11-20. Accessed at

Michigan State University has an engaged scholar newsletter

The Engaged Scholarship Consortium hosts conferences and provides resources. Click here to view a database of suggested journals for review and publication. 

Campus Compact's Community-Engaged Research Knowledge Hub

For information on how to include community engagement in faculty dossiers here at Cal State East Bay, refer to our this handout on Community Engagement in Faculty Dossiers

The Chancellor’s Office has called for two common attributes and definitions of Service Learning (CSLI) and Curricular Community-Engaged Learning (CCEL) across all CSUs to improve data collection, assessment, and information transparency with students. CO definitions have been designed to encompass existing campus definitions (not supersede).  

The attributes will be implemented through a faculty survey managed through CalStateS4 and the Center for Community Engagement. The survey will be disseminated to faculty teaching a wide variety of community engaged courses. Based on a faculty member's response to the survey, a course will receive either the CSLI or CCEL attribute. The internships attribute is still active, but based on the inventory process, there may be a revision of NTRN courses.

Please visit the Community Engagement Course Attribute page for complete information.

Resources on strategies and guiding principles:

»Discussions from a viewpoint of community partners

»Discussions from a faculty viewpoint

»9 Principles of CBR

»Thought Questions for CBR projects

 Campus Compact's Community-Engaged Research Knowledge Hub