What is Service-Learning and Civic Engagement?

How MSU Defines Service-Learning and Civic Engagement

Civic Engagement

"Civic engagement means to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference.  It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and nonpolitical processes." 

Thomas Ehrlich (Civic Responsibility and Higher Education, American Council on Education/Oryx Press, 2000, p. vi)

Curricular Engagement

Curricular engagement means teaching, learning, and scholarship that engage faculty, students, and community in mutually beneficial and respectful collaboration. Their interactions are supported by the institution and address community identified needs, deepen student learning, enhance the well-being of the community, and enrich the scholarship of the university.

Service-learning may take various forms, depending on how closely the service is related to the student's academic program.

Academic Service-Learning

A teaching method that combines community service with academic instructions as it focuses on critical, reflective thinking and civic responsibility. Service-learning programs involve students in organized community service that addresses local needs, while developing their academic skills, sense of civic responsibility and commitment to the community. (Definition adapted from Campus Compact, a national coalition of college and university presidents that is dedicated to promoting civic engagement and service-learning in higher education.)

Curricular Service-Learning

Service related to a particular academic major or field of study in which the service is attached to the discipline rather than a specific course.

Co-Curricular Service-Learning

These experiences provide students with opportunities to volunteer in traditional ways, through community-based placements in areas of interest unrelated to courses or academic majors. Many of these opportunities are available through student-led initiatives dedicated to service, community and civic engagement, and advocacy.

Awards and Recognition

In recognition of the service and engagement of our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community partners, Michigan State University was awarded the following prestigious awards in 2014

U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll Logo

2014 U.S. President's "Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll (with Distinction)"

Carnegie Foundation Logo

2014 Carnegie Foundation "Elective Community Engagement" Classification

Michigan Campus Compact Logo

2014 Michigan Campus Compact "Engaged Campus of the Year"