by Ash Coutu, CFICE Communications RA

A paved road leading off into the sunset.Community-engaged learning is a great way to illuminate course content with real world experience.

Community-engaged learning helps you:

  • Make meaningful connections in the community
  • Volunteer in your area of interest
  • Learn about issues going on in your city
  • Beef up your resume
  • Gain hands on experience
  • Add to your Co-Curricular Record

If you haven’t yet considered getting involved in a community-engaged course, internship, or practicum, then maybe now’s the time to start! Check out these 6 ways to get the ball rolling with your community-engaged learning!

1. Talk to your academic advisor or instructor

Before you dive right into course lists and internship postings, set up a meeting with your academic advisor or instructor.

Ask about current opportunities that exist in your department. Instructors can give you tips on how to apply for current opportunities, provide you with contacts, and help you construct solid applications for community-engaged internships, courses, and practicums.

Pause to consider: what kind of experience are you hoping to gain from community-engaged learning?

2. Check out the Student Experience Office

The Student Experience Office (SEO) will provide you with information on how to engage in service-learning and leadership projects in the community. The SEO also holds several days of service a month with multiple chances to volunteer in your community.

Another neat way to get involved is by participating in a service-focused Alternative Spring Break. The SEO can show you how to apply and go on a Alternative Spring Break.

Pause to Consider: How much time can you commit to community-engaged learning this year?

3. Connect with a Community Partner

Ready to dive in? Western University’s Student Guide to Community Engaged Learning is a great resource that will familiarize you with definitions and basic non-governmental organiztion (NGO) terms. This guide also asks questions like, “What kind of things will I be involved with at an organization?”

Pause to consider: What skills could you offer to the community? What skills do you hope to develop through working with the community?

A group of people laughing.

4. Do a Placement

Placements are another great way to get involved with community-engaged learning. Check with your department for specific opportunities, and in the meantime take a look at the department of Social Work’s guidelines for a placement. This guide will help you consider the things you will need for a placement such as insurance, liability, and security checks.

Check out Flinder’s University’s Tips for Success for resources on how to have a successful placement, and be sure to take a look at this how-to guide from Wilfred-Laurier University on Pre-Placement Screening.

Pause to consider: Does your placement require a police background check? If you are in Ottawa, then click the following link to get your Police Record Check for Service with Vulnerable people.

5. Work on a Community-Engaged Research Project

Did you know that there are numerous opportunities to conduct community-campus engagement (CCE) based research? Check out the links below for ways you can fund your future CCE research project:

Pause to consider: Do you want to conduct community-engaged research abroad? Then head over to Queen’s University’s website for a great list of international funding opportunities.

6. Be bold!

Get involved! Experiences you have outside the classroom are just as important as those you have inside the classroom. Get outside your comfort zone, and rise to the challenge of participating in community-engaged learning!