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 2021

February 2021

Application Open | SSLP 2021
Wednesday, February 3, 2021 (All day)
Social Concerns Fair
Tuesday, February 9, 2021 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Application Close | SSLP 2021
Monday, February 15, 2021 (All day)

March 2021

2021 CST Conference: Justice in the World
Thursday, March 25, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
2021 CST Conference: Justice in the World
Friday, March 26, 2021 - 11:00am to 8:15pm
2021 CST Conference: Justice in the World
Saturday, March 27, 2021 - 9:00am to 12:15pm

April 2021