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Community-Engaged Learning

Certificate in Community-Engaged Learning

2019-2020 Applications are due December 20, 2019, April 22, 2020, and August 14, 2020. See the apply section for more details.

The Certificate in Community-Engaged Learning is a collaboration between the Rochester Center for Community Leadership (RCCL), the dean of the College, and Arts, Sciences and Engineering (AS&E) academic programs. The program supports students, faculty, and community partners who combine teaching, research, and practice to build scholarship and address pressing issues facing communities locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.

Through pursuing an academic certificate in community-engaged learning, students passionate about integrated learning and responding to community-identified needs are able to design a course of study and practice that complements the Rochester Curriculum and their chosen areas of study. The certificate is designed to contextualize abstract theories, develop critical skills, and challenge assumptions that will prepare them for their future at Rochester and beyond. The capstone project should address the needs of under-served communities beyond campus and it should build the capacity of the partner organization leaving them with assets that outlast the time during which the student is completing their capstone project.

To receive the academic certificate in community-engaged learning, students must complete the following requirements (minimum of 16 credits):

Community-Engaged Coursework

Students fulfill this requirement by taking courses offered by existing AS&E departments and programs totaling 12 credits, which:

  • Expose the student to issues of inequality or unmet needs in the communities beyond campus
  • Include material taught in collaboration with non-academic partner organizations
  • Involve coursework that contributes to the missions and needs of those non-academic partner organizations

Community-Engaged Seminars

Students are required to take a total of four credit hours that examine the theory and practice of community-engaged . The seminars; CAS 202 (2 credits), CAS 206a (1 credit), and CAS 206b (1 credit), allow students to:

  • Learn from each other in a seminar-based cohort
  • Prepare for productive and socially just interaction with community partners
  • Practice critical reflection in their community-engaged learning

The seminars will explore local and global University-community relationships, and will foster learning in the context of these diverse partnerships. These seminars should be taken in sequence. Both seminars examine topics through readings, case studies, reflective writing, guest speakers, and site visits.

CAS 202: Introduction to Community-Engaged Learning

This course is open to any undergraduate student and surveys community-engaged and critical reflection. Students are encouraged to take this early in their curriculum as it is a prerequisite for the advanced seminar and a requirement for approval of the capstone project.

This course can serve as a recruitment tool for students to pursue the academic certificate in community-engaged learning, and will allow them to consult with the instructor to chart a path toward achieving this certificate.

CAS 202 is offered in the fall and spring semesters, please check the course catalog for semester specific information. Instructor permission is required for this course. Please fill out this interest form to receive the instructor permission code.

CAS 206a: Community-Engaged Learning

This advanced 1 credit seminar will prepare students to identify meaningful projects, explore community and faculty partnerships, with a goal of creating a capstone proposal by the end of the course. Advanced topics in the course include:

  • Community-based inquiry
  • Systems thinking
  • Community-university partnerships
  • Critical reflection
  • Cultural competencies
  • Leadership frameworks

This seminar is intended to be taken before a student proposes their capstone project.

CAS 206b: Advanced Community-Engaged Learning

This advanced one credit seminar will work with students currently implementing their capstone project. Students will work in a cohort model to discuss their individual projects providing feedback and encouragement. The course will offer additional advanced topics related to the student's capstone topic areas. This seminar is intended to be taken concurrently with or immediately following work on the capstone project in order for the academic certificate in community-engaged learning to be achieved.

Community-Engaged Capstone Project

The community-engaged capstone project is an extended project conceived of and executed by the student under the joint supervision of a Rochester faculty member and a leader of a non-academic partner organization. The project should address the needs of under-served communities beyond campus.

Students who wish to conduct a project must propose the project’s activities and objectives for approval by the program steering committee before the beginning of the fall semester of senior year. To be approved, a project must:

  • Include at least 100 hours of contact time by the student (i.e., time working with leadership from the partner organization and/or in direct contact with the populations the partner organization serves).
  • Culminate in the delivery of a tangible work product by the student that meets needs of the partner organization and/or the population it serves, and draw on methods and knowledge of the academic discipline represented by the project’s faculty supervisor.

Students can use any of the following programs to partially fulfill capstone requirements:


To be eligible for this program and the academic certificate, students must:

  • Maintain a GPA of at least 2.0 for all courses for the certificate
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.5
  • Enroll in CAS 202 prior to their senior year


Students interested in the certificate should expect to meet with their faculty advisor and take CAS 202. Please contact Lauren Caruso to schedule an advising meeting and for further application details by emailing

Students prepared to submit a capstone proposal must do so using the following online application.