Today, community engagement takes on many forms at the University, from Community-Engaged Courses (CECs) to faculty, staff, and students conducting research with community partners across the state and beyond.

Defining Community Engagement

Community engagement describes the collaboration between higher education institutions and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in partnership and reciprocity.

The University of Iowa follows the Carnegie Foundation's definition of Community Engagement. This definition helps guide the work of the Office of Community Engagement and lays a foundation for understanding and communicating engagement work across campus and with community partners.  

What Community Engagement Does

What Community Engagement Does

  • Enriches scholarship, research, and creative activity
  • Enhances curriculum, teaching, and learning
  • Prepares students to be educated and engaged citizens
  • Strengthens democratic values and civic responsibility
  • Addresses critical societal issues
  • Improves quality of life

Carnegie Foundation

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Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement

The Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement is an elective classification from the Carnegie Foundation given to higher education institutions that demonstrate extraordinary commitments to community engagement.

The University of Iowa was first designated in 2015 and the Office of Community Engagement is leading the effort to re-classify the campus for the 2026 cycle.

In 2015, the University of Iowa applied for and received the elective Engagement Classification from The Carnegie Foundation. This award recognizes the University's commitment to engagement in all aspects of its operations while providing a framework to continually evaluate and improve engagement work.

The Carnegie Engagement Classification also signals to communities, external funders, and other institution partners that community engagement is a strategic priority woven into Iowa's mission of teaching, research, diversity, equity, inclusion, and service.

The University of Iowa's Strategic Plan reflects this commitment to community engagement, aiming to "...engage with Iowa and the world to broaden education, improve health and enhance economic development."

Not only is the Elective Classification for Community Engagement a great way for the University of Iowa to gain recognition for institutionalizing community engagement, but it also provides our campus with the opportunity to assess our progress with community engagement and identify opportunities for continued growth and development. Over the next year, OCE and a Leadership Committee of faculty and staff will work to gather data from across campus and assemble a successful re-classification application to Carnegie.

Thank you to the members of the Leadership Committee for their time and commitment to this process and thank you in advance to everyone across campus for helping complete the application by sharing data, information, and community engagement stories of impact.

For more information on the Elective Classification for Community Engagement, visit:

Members of the Carnegie Reclassification Leadership Committee:

  • Natoshia Askelson, College of Public Health
  • Christine Getz, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • Dawn Kluber, Tippie College of Business
  • Rebekah Kowal, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • Travis Kraus, Graduate College
  • Jennifer New, Graduate College
  • Heather Reisinger, College of Medicine, ICTS

Types of Engagement

Types of Engagement

students attending class in the field

Community-Engaged Teaching and Learning

A pedagogical approach that connects students and faculty with activities that address community-identified needs through mutually beneficial partnerships that deepen students' academic and civic learning. 

EX: Community Engaged Courses (CEC) or community-engaged clinical practicums



A sustained collaboration between institutions of higher education and communities for the mutually beneficial exchange, exploration, and application of knowledge, information, and resources.  

EX: research, capacity building, and project development and execution around shared goals like economic development, environmental conservation, or cultural vitality

students researching in a library

Community-Engaged Scholarship

The creation and dissemination of knowledge and creative expression to further the mission and goals of the University in collaboration with the community.

Community-Engaged Scholarship (CES) addresses community needs through research, teaching, and service in a mutually beneficial partnership. Academic peers and community partners determine the quality and impact of CES. 

students in a research lab

Community-Engaged Research

A collaborative process between the researcher and community partner that creates and disseminates knowledge and creative expression to contribute to the discipline and strengthen the community's well-being. 

Exploring Engagement Series

Exploring Engagement Audio Series

The audio series Exploring Engagement offers an opportunity to hear from those at all levels of community engagement at the University of Iowa to understand better how this valuable part of the education experience is making a difference in the lives of Hawkeyes and the communities they serve.