History of Community-Engaged Learning at Notre Dame

Community engagement has long been central to the mission of institutions of higher education. Land grant institutions were founded with “public outreach” and the improvement of their local and state communities as core to their purpose. Private institutions with religiously-formed missions, such as the University of Notre Dame, were also clear on their responsibility to learn in and with communities around the world to advance the common good so that all may flourish. 

In the 1980s, institutions of higher learning re-animated their commitment to community engagement by coordinating their work and articulating principles for more rigorous practice that considered both student learning and social impact. Former president of the University of Notre Dame the Rev. Fr. “Monk” Malloy, C.S.C., joined a council of American university leaders who founded the Campus Compact in 1985, “a national coalition of 1,000+ colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. [Universities that] build democracy through civic education and community development.” The Indiana Campus Compact chapter has been a leader among the organization, offering grants, professional development, and scholarly resources to member schools. As president of the University of Notre Dame, the Rev. Fr. Ted Hesburgh, C.S.C., expanded resources for community engagement by dedicating a new home to the Center for Social Concerns in the heart of campus (see Center history).

Through such efforts, community engagement has developed into a field of academic knowledge known currently as the scholarship of engagement. The field is aligned with such research methods as participatory action research; the Center for Social Concerns distinguishes its focus through three principles: 1) co-creation of the design, implementation, and assessment of projects with community partners, 2) delivery of results directly to the community for their use; and 3) the aim of social justice. Like all fields, the nomenclature has evolved with the field, incorporating service-learning, experiential learning, community-based learning, community-based research, and now the more inclusive family of terms, such as critical service-learning, community-engaged research, community-engaged teaching, and community-engaged learning. Notre Dame faculty have been instrumental in defining the field.

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Upcoming Events

January 2022

Circles at the Snite
Thursday, January 27, 2022 - 5:30pm to 7:00pm
Labor Café Goes Zoom!
Friday, January 28, 2022 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
Virtues and Vocations presents Mary Gentile: Giving Voice to Values
Monday, January 31, 2022 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

February 2022

Application Close | SSLP 2022
Tuesday, February 1, 2022 - 12:00am to 11:45pm
Signs of the Times Series | Education
Friday, February 4, 2022 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Proposal Deadline | Community Impact Grants
Monday, February 14, 2022 - 4:30pm
Junior Parents Weekend Open House
Friday, February 18, 2022 - 4:00pm to 6:00pm

March 2022

Catholic Social Tradition Minor Open House & Info Session
Wednesday, March 16, 2022 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm