What is a Community Engaged Course (CEC)?

The Community Engaged Course (CEC) designation recognizes courses that integrate community engaged learning into course activities. Community engaged learning, sometimes called service learning, creates mutually beneficial partnerships between faculty, students and community partners that goes beyond direct service (e.g. cleaning up a community garden or tutoring youth) to deepen students' academic and civic learning.

While the University of Iowa follows the Carnegie Foundation's definition of community engagement, for the purposes of the CEC designation, the five criteria listed below serve as a roadmap for designated courses as a Community Engaged Course.

Community Partner - Students work with an organization or entity (public or private for-profit/not-for-profit) not directly affiliated with the University of Iowa to advance mutually designated goals and objectives. The partnership substantially advances student understanding of course content and learning objectives.

Reciprocity - The community organization or entity benefits from the course partnership, and in return students engage in experiential learning that complements their coursework. There is an agreed upon set of expectations and outcomes for all stakeholders (faculty, students, community partner).

Activities - Students participate in assignments, readings, discussions, and projects that incorporate community engagement experiences that relate to and interact with course subject matter.

Grading - The course syllabus and grading demonstrate that the community engagement activities are a substantial component of the overall course. It is recommended that at least 25% of a student’s grade in the course is based on community engaged learning activities.

Reflection - Students engage in meaningful and deliberate reflection of the community engaged learning activities throughout the course. This reflection should include dialogue (may be in the form of written assignments, small group discussions, exams) about societal issues related to the community partner and course content.


Why should I apply for the CEC designation?

Research indicates that community engaged learning is a high impact learning practice for students. Courses that integrate community partnerships not only deepen student understanding of course material and help students better connect with their academic studies, but also provide students with the opportunity to enhance critical skills like professional communication, working in teams, and leadership.

Community engaged courses receive favorable reviews from students at Iowa. Recent survey data indicates that over 90% of students at Iowa who took a community engaged course would enroll in another community engaged course. The designation via MyUI will be the best way for students interested in engagement to proactively seek out your course.

The campus committee reviewing the CEC designation, in partnership with the Office of Community Engagement, will offer assistance with syllabus development and modification, community partnerships, assessment and evaluation, and other support needed to successful teach a community engaged course. Every application for a CEC designation will receive feedback from the committee.

The CEC Designation is a good way to connect with other instructors teaching community engaged courses. The Office of Community Engagement plans to offer gatherings for CEC instructors who would like to learn more about community engaged teaching and consider opportunities for collaboration.


How do I apply for the CEC designation?

Instructors may apply to designate their course through a short online application. All applications must be submitted by the time and date specified on the application. 

Instructors will be notified within two weeks of the application deadline whether their course received the CEC designation. If the course did not meet the CEC criteria, instructors will receive feedback and support in making any modifications that would contribute to a stronger CEC application. Applicants will have time to re-submit their CEC application before the final list is due to the Office of the Registrar shortly before courses are available for viewing by students.

The Office of Community Engagement is available to assist instructors in developing their CEC courses. Please reach out to Nick Benson at nicholas-benson@uiowa.edu to receive help in designing your course to meet the CEC designation standards.

Who decides who receives the CEC designation?

The Community Engaged Course Review Committee reviews CEC designation applications, provides feedback to faculty, and determines which courses receive the designation. The 2021-2022 CEC Review Committee is composed of the following individuals representing colleges and units across campus:

  1. Nick Benson, Executive Director, Office of Community Engagement
  2. Noel Mills, Graduate Research Assistant, Office of Community Engagement
  3. Jenny Noyce, Associate Director, Experiential Education, Pomerantz Career Center
  4. Sara Nasrollahian Mojarad, Assistant Director, Center for Teaching
  5. Nicholas Kavanaugh, Assistant Director, Experiential Learning, Tippie College of Business
  6. Travis Kraus, Associate Professor of Practice, School of Planning and Public Affairs, Graduate College
  7. Christine Getz, Associate Dean, Outreach and Engagement and Graduate Education, CLAS
  8. Rema Afifi, Professor, Community and Behavioral Health, College of Public Health
  9. Lisa Segre, Professor, College of Nursing