UAA Service Learning Definitions

The University of Alaska Anchorage describes

Community engagement as collaborations between institutions of higher educations and individuals, organizations, and institutions in their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.

Community-based research is rooted in a particular time and setting and calls for shared expertise.  It values the participation of local community members and brings their perspectives into the research process.  It includes community-responsive clinical and population-based care (for example, community-oriented primary care, academic public health practice), and participatory action research.  Key differences from traditional social science research is the active inclusion of community members' perspectives and reciprocal learning.  Related methodologies include applied research, technical assistance, and policy research, though these do not necessarily maintain a reciprocal relationship with community members during the research process.

Engaged service happens when faculty are engaged in service in the community in a way that enhances both their experience and the community's well being.  This kind of public work and collaborative practice is linked to community-identified problems in a process of community change and development.  It relies on faculty expertise and components that define scholarship (for example, clear goals, adequate preparation, appropriate methods, significant results, effective presentation, reflective critique, rigor, and peer review).

Curricular engagement includes approaches where teaching, learning and scholarship engage faculty, students, and community in mutually beneficial and respectful collaboration.  Their interactions address community-identified needs, deepen students' civic and academic learning, enhance community well-being, and enrich the scholarship of the institution.

One form of curricular engagement is community-based, service-learning courses.  UAA's definition of a community-engaged learning course is a course or competency-based, credit-bearing educational experience in which students:

  • participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs;
  • gain an enhanced sense of civic responsibility; and
  • reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding.

A UAA faculty committee approved learning outcomes for all UAA community-based learning courses.  After completing a community-based learning course, students will be able to:

  • integrate learning with experience and apply it;
  • appreciate the responsibilities of service, ethics, and diversity as values;
  • distinguish compassionate citizens from effective citizens;
  • develop problem-solving skills, know where resources are, and learn how to learn; and
  • develop skills in collaboration and reciprocity.

Faculty activities are an integral component of an institution's broader organizational outreach and partnership.  UAA faculty's unique contributions are recognized through their scholarly and creative activities in research, teaching, and service.