What is Community Engagement?

October 22, 2010
Merith Weisman

Community-engaged teaching

  • Service-learning
  • Problem-based learning for the common good
  • Course-based public scholarship
  • Unpaid community-based internships

Public scholarship

  • Community-based research
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Action research
  • Research for the common good
  • Creative activity for or with community partners


  • Community service
    • Serving on community boards and committees
    • Public service
  • Pro-bono consulting and speaking
  • Advocating for community partners
  • Alternative spring breaks
  • Voter registration drives
  • Community-centered forums
  • Social change activism

Hello, world! Thank you for checking out the first blog post of the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) at Sonoma State University (SSU).

When we launched our twice annual e-newsletter we received many kind and supportive calls and emails -- and many requests for more news. That's why we launched this blog.

It seems only fitting for our first post to explore the meaning of our name -- the SSU Center for Community Engagement. What is "community engagement," anyway?

Community Engagement[1] describes the collaboration between higher education institutions and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange and production of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. Examples of community engagement activities include, but are not limited to:

Less technically, usually we're talking about anything university employees, departments, and students do with or for (but not on) community and all the ways community partners assist the University with addressing our mission.

"Community" usually refers to nonprofit and governmental organizations. It can also mean a common good concept, like sustainability or neighborhood building.

For students, this usually looks like community service or academic service-learning. For faculty, this usually looks like teaching a service-learning course, doing community engaged scholarship, or serving in a leadership role with a nonprofit or governmental agency. For community organizations, this usually looks like a collection of ways to collaborate with the University to address your mission.

There is more information about all of these concepts on our website and e-newsletter. Additionally, there are lots of other ways to keep up with what's going on: like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter, check out the resources in the CCE's library, subscribe to our Google calendar of events, become a subscriber on our Youtube channel, or email or call the office (707-664-3202) anytime.

[1] Slightly adapted from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning definition (https://www.brown.edu/swearer/carnegie/about) and the CSU Chancellor's Office definition (https://cce.calstate.edu/reflections/2022-03/community-engagement-csu).