Student Community Placements
Community Engagement is when the university works collaboratively with community-based organizations* to address issues important to the well-being and lives of community members; we call this the common good.** Through community engagement, university and community-based organizations exchange and share resources and work together to advocate for positive systemic change.
*Community-Based Organization - Public or private organizations that represent a community or members of a community, providing related services to individuals in the community. CBOs may work at local, regional, national, or global levels to meet needs of communities as defined by location, identity, need, or interest. They include schools, social service agencies, nonprofit organizations, government organizations and private entities that work in this capacity.
**Common Good - The material, cultural or institutional interests that members of society have in common, e.g. arts, civic engagement, community health/well-being, economic development, education, equity, sustainability.
Why is community engagement a part of a college education?
Community Engagement is an important part of the mission of the California State University system. Rooted in our communities, each CSU campus collaborates regionally to contribute to community growth and enhance student learning. The core values of Cal State East Bay, identified in our Mission Statement, Institutional Learning Outcomes and Shared Strategic Commitments, demonstrate this commitment. Cal State East Bay values community engagement as a way to 1) foster a vibrant, innovative learning environment that promotes academic, professional, and personal development, and 2) contribute to the health and strength of our communities—economically, socially, environmentally, educationally, and politically. Within the classroom, community engagement has four purposes. For students to:
- apply learning in a real-world environment;
- deepen their connection to course learning and career goals;
- prepare to be engaged citizens and socially responsible contributors to society;
- realize that knowledge is a living force, meant to be used, that changes and grows once applied.
The Forms of Community Engagement
Community engagement can take different forms, which impact how people work together, and the collaboration of university and community members.
Volunteering and Community Service: Student participation in events and activities that focus on the service and its benefit to the community. Students learn about community issues and how their service makes a difference in the world. These are mostly co-curricular in nature, organized through student clubs and university departments. Many students come to the university primarily having experienced community engagement by volunteering and community service through home life and extra-curricular activities.
Community Engaged Courses: There are a variety of courses at the university which connect students with applied, real-world learning experiences. The university and community–based organizations collaborate to identify activities that are appropriate for students, relevant to student learning, and beneficial for the community. Please see the tab “Understanding Community Engaged Courses” for more information.
Public Scholarship/The Scholarship of Engagement – Students may also have the opportunity to participate in research projects related to community engagement. The scholarship of engagement connects faculty and student research to understanding and solving social, civic, or ethical problems. This knowledge is developed and shared with the community, through mutually respectful and beneficial partnerships.
There are a variety of courses at the university which connect students with applied, real-world learning experiences. These courses may use different descriptive words like: applied, capstone, community engagement, field work, internship, practicum, service learning. In general, this means that students are engaged in off campus learning ("community based") activities as part of course learning.
The expectations and requirements for these courses and assignments differ depending on the type of course and the department, including:
- the learning outcomes or purpose of the assignment;
- hours requirements;
- how students find an external organization;
- the process for “placing” with the organization or confirming the community-based learning experience;
- how much of the course grade is based on the community-based assignment.
Students should always check with their instructor to ensure they know course expectations and requirements.
The Center for Community Engagement specifically supports community engagement courses.
Community Engagement is a special type of "community-based" or off campus learning. We identify community engagement courses by the student learning experience and community impact, not by course title or label.
common, e.g. arts, civic engagement, community health/well being, economic development, education, equity, sustainability.
Again, these courses use different descriptive words like: applied, capstone, community engagement, field work, internship, practicum, service learning. Based on the student learning experience and the collaboration with the community, the courses below may be Community Engaged Learning or Service Learning.
Capstone: A capstone course requires successful completion of a thesis, project, or comprehensive examination. The quality of the student’s work is the major consideration in judging the success of this degree component. We consider capstone courses “community engagement” when a student’s capstone experience includes community-based learning and intersects with the common good.
Field/Fieldwork: “Field or fieldwork” courses provide students with community-based learning opportunities that are central to their major/degree academic work and are organized around enhancing the student's understanding of their field of study and having students demonstrate skills related to their future profession. While students usually have a site supervisor identified at the community-based organization, they are also expected to be able to work independently. Students generally take fieldwork courses towards the end of their degree of study, or as part of a graduate program. We consider field courses “community engagement” when a student’s academic program and professional work experience intersect with the common good.
Internship: Internships are formal work opportunities which integrate an academic program with career aspirations. We consider internships “community engagement” when, through an internship course led by a faculty member, a student’s academic program and professional work experience intersect with the common good, and students reflect on this intersection through course assignments.
Practicum – Practicum courses provide students with community-based learning opportunities that are central to their major/degree academic work and are organized around enhancing the student's understanding of their field of study and having students demonstrate skills related to their future profession. While students usually have a site supervisor identified at the community-based organization, they are also expected to be able to work independently. Students generally take practicum courses towards the end of their degree of study, or as part of a graduate program. We consider practicum courses “community engagement” when a student’s academic program and professional work experience intersect with the common good.
Are you in a community engagement or service learning course? Check here!
Students in one of these courses may request community placement assistance from the Center for Community Engagement firstname.lastname@example.org
The Center for Community Engagement supports student community placements through CalStateS4. CalStateS4 (or "S4") is a web platform that manages the student placement process for community-based learning courses. CalStateS4 provides a database of external organizations that are “pre-approved” for students to work with, and also is where students may request that the university approve organizations not currently in the database. In S4, students sign the required forms to participate in these community-based learning experiences. Faculty use S4 to track student hours and activities.
Students in community-based courses will be informed by their instructors if they are expected to use CalStateS4.
To access S4, visit https://app.calstates4.com/csueastbay
To begin this process, it is strongly recommended that students read the S4 guides first.
Students may browse the most current community opportunities by logging into S4 with Net ID and clicking on the "Opportunities" tab. Or students may browse all sites by clicking on "Sites."
Students using or planning to use a site that is not listed in CalStateS4 must complete the Student Placement Request for a Non-Contracted Site.
PDF (Tips for Collaborating Positively and Effectively)
PDF (Ethical Considerations)
Course Definitions: We define courses as community engaged or service learning based on the student learning experience and community impact, not course title.
Our broad term for these courses is "community engaged learning" which classifies the variety of curricular community-based learning experiences and activities that students engage in that contribute to the public good, commonly through arts, education, equity, health, sustainability, economic development. A course is considered ‘community-engaged’ based on implementation, not title or course label. Within CEL, practices vary widely in terms of depth, breadth and scope of student activities and partnerships. CEL courses may use such terms as fieldwork, applied, practicum, internship, service.
Service learning is a specific type of Community-Engaged Learning in which substantive community engagement and the related community partnerships are a critical component of course learning, with equal focus on community impact and student learning related to social justice or responsibility. Service learning courses may also be labelled with a variety of titles.
Please also see our About Community Engagement page for further information on definitions and identifying these types of courses.
Current Liability Requirements based on the CSU Office of the Chancellor:
- Any student actively participating in an unpaid learning activity for credit with an organization or external entity must sign a waiver and there must be an MOU in place with the organization.
- If students are paid and receiving credit, an MOU is not required; however paid students should still sign a waiver which functions as a participation/learning agreement.
Department reporting - For courses/activities not managed through CalStateS4, Community Engaged Learning (paid or unpaid) should be reported to the CCE, including:
- course information
- # of hours served and placement sites/student
- community issues addressed
- confirmation of site agreements (MOUs)
CalstateS4 is an online platform hosted by the Chancellor’s Office which manages student placements, facilitates the off-campus learning risk management process, and lists community partnership information. Students and faculty may use CalStateS4 for their courses to find and place with organizations who have a current agreement with CSUEB Center for Community Engagement. We manage the CalstateS4 application in an effort to centralize the student placement and risk management processes associated with community-engaged learning.
All courses that we have identified as community-engaged are automatically loaded into S4 for student and faculty use. Any course may be loaded on a term-by-term basis if a faculty member would like to implement a community-engaged learning assignment.
We have seen our communities and our lives greatly impacted by the onset of the novel corona virus, COVID-19. As we continue to respond and plan as a university, faculty will also be planning for courses that contain a community engagement component. [For more information on how these courses are defined see Defining & Identifying Community Engagement on this web page.]
For more information on planning for virual/remote community engagement and service learning, please see our Course Development & Scholarship page.
It's imperative that faculty remain aware of COVID-19 and shelter-in-place throughout the state as the predominance of online learning means our students will be located throughout the state as they take these courses.
Per the Chancellor's Office new CSU policy: California State University Experiential Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic the Center for Community Engagement has adopted two new forms for partners and students as part of the placement process. These forms ask each to acknowledge COVID-19 preparation and protocol to help ensure the health of both our students and the larger community. You may view both the Student Guidelines and Partner Guidelines that are addressed in the forms. Both students and partners will receive the forms as part of the S4 placement process. Please review these COVID-19 Guidelines with your students and ensure students and partners have completed the forms.
Departments and courses that do not use CalStateS4 for placements and partnerships may use the guidelines above to develop their own versions, or email the email@example.com for access to an external student waiver for COVID-19.
Please be advised that 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. The MOU helps establish a safe, respectful, and transparent partnership for all stakeholders (university, faculty, students, community organizations). CalStateS4 hosts a searchable database of "approved" partners. The CCE is actively working to develop a database focused on remote/virtual projects available for fall 2020. https://app.calstates4.com/csueastbay/program-sites
To assist faculty in preparing for community engagement in the time of COVID-19, the Center for Community Engagement has developed a planning checklist that faculty may use: