Skip to main content

Outreach & Community Engagement

Open Main MenuClose Main Menu

Community Engagement Definitions



For the purpose of university engagement, a community is a group (i.e., people, industry, entity) external to the university who are affiliated by shared characteristics such as geographical proximity, special interest, need, similar situation, or values.



Sustained collaboration between institutions of higher education and communities for the mutually beneficial exchange, exploration, and application of knowledge, information, and resources. Examples are research, capacity building, or economic development.

Community Service

The application and provision of institutional resources, knowledge or services that directly benefits the community. Examples include music concerts, athletic events, student volunteers, public lectures, or health fairs.


Community Engagement

The collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in the context of partnership and reciprocity. It can involve partnerships and coalitions that help mobilize resources and influence systems and serve as catalysts for initiating and/or changing policies, programs, and practices.


Community-Engaged Scholarship

The creation and dissemination of knowledge and creative expression in furtherance of the mission and goals of the university and in collaboration with the community. Community engaged scholarship addresses community needs through research, teaching, Extension and outreach in a mutually beneficial partnership. The quality and impact of Community Engaged Scholarship are determined by academic peers and community partners.


Community-Engaged Teaching/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. Examples are service‐learning courses or service‐learning clinical pratica.


Community-Engaged Research/Creative Work

A collaborative process between the researcher and community partner that creates and disseminates knowledge and creative expression with the goal of contributing to the discipline and strengthening the well‐being of the community. Community‐engaged research and creativity identify the assets of all stakeholders and incorporates them in the design and conduct of the different phases of the research process.


Community-Engaged Outreach/Extension

The application of one's professional expertise that addresses a community‐identified need and supports the goals and mission of the university and the community. Community‐engaged outreach may entail the delivery of expertise, resources and programs to the community.


Traditional and Engaged Scholarship



  • Breaks new ground in the discipline.

  • Answers significant questions in the discipline.

  • Is reviewed and validated by qualified peers in the discipline.

  • Theoretically grounded.

  • Advances disciplinary knowledge.


  • Breaks new ground in the discipline and has direct application to broader people issues

  • Answers significant questions in the discipline which have relevance to public or community issues.

  • Is reviewed and validated by qualified peers in the discipline and the community.

  • Theoretically grounded and practically applicable.

  • Advances disciplinary knowledge and public knowledge.




The key terms and definitions above are from Virginia Commonwealth University.

1Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. (2011). Classification description: Community engagement elective classification.

2Clinical and Translational Science Awards Consortium’s Community Engagement Key Function Committee. (2011). Principles of community engagement (2nd ed). (NIH Publication No. 11‐7782). Retrieved from

3Driscoll, A., & Sandmann, L. (2011). Evaluation Criteria for the Scholarship of Engagement.

4Glassick, C., Huber, M., & Maeroff, G. (1997). Scholarship assessed: Evaluation of the professoriate. San Francisco: Jossey‐Bass.

5Harter, L.M., Hamel‐Lambert, J., & Millesen, J. (2011). Participatory partnerships for social action and research. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Press.

6Lynton, E.A. (1995). Making the case for professional service. Washington, DC: American Association for Higher Education.

7Saltmarsh, J. (2010). Changing pedagogies. In H. Fitzgerald, C. Burack, & S. Seifer (Eds.). Handbook of engaged scholarship: Contemporary landscapes, future directions. Vol. 1: Institutional change. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.

8The University of Kansas Beach Center on Disability. (2012). Participatory action research.

9U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research.(unknown). Community-based participatory research.


Back To Top
SVG directory not found.