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Community-Engaged Learning


The University of Rochester has a distinguished and diverse tradition of experiential learning opportunities, including:

  • Study abroad
  • Credit-bearing internships
  • Undergraduate research
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Studio arts
  • Music performance

The Rochester Center for Community Leadership (RCCL) contributes to this tradition by facilitating community-engaged learning experiences—both curricular and co-curricular.

Community-engaged learning provides a structured approach to learning and teaching that connects meaningful community experiences to enhance academics, personal growth, and civic identity. This type of learning enriches coursework by encouraging students to apply the knowledge and analytic tools gained in the classroom to the pressing issues affecting our communities.

Components of Community-Engaged Learning

Academic Material

Like traditional courses, community-engaged learning starts from a place of academic inquiry. Students learn foundational approaches to their area of study and engage in academically rigorous work.

Academic material includes items such as:

  • Course content
  • Academic theories and frameworks
  • Discipline-specific research
  • Research questions

Relevant academic material engagement includes:

  • Activities in the community that are relevant to academic material
  • Community-identified needs, interests, and capacities

Critical Reflection

We believe critical reflection is essential to learning. Critical reflection helps us generate, deepen, and document learning and is a process through which experiences become meaningful. Critical reflection enables us to understand:

  • Who we are
  • What we know, what we need to learn, and how we learn
  • Identify how the world around us works, our place in it, and our responsibility to it


Supporting Community-Engaged Learning

Introductory painting course turns Rochester waiting rooms into ‘welcome rooms’ 

Students in Heather Layton’s classes worked with staff and community members at the Jordan Health Centers to fill spaces with art. Layton received financial support for her course from the University, which counts community engagement as one of its core missions. Materials, transportation, and other expenditures related to the collaborative projects are funded as part of a Community-Engaged Learning Grant from the Rochester Center for Community Leadership.

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