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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Application Deadline | McNeill Leadership Fellows Program
Friday, April 30, 2021 - 12:00am to 11:45pm

May 2021

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CST Research Seminar
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Labor Café | The Paid Leave Priority
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