Community-Engaged Department Certification

The unique “citizen scholar” mission of USU’s General Education program empowers students to develop intellectually, personally, and culturally, so they may serve the people of Utah, the nation, and the world. Citizen scholars graduate equipped to participate and lead in local, regional, national, and global communities. In order to truly develop citizen scholars, USU must integrate knowledge of, exposure to, and partnership with the broader community into research, academics, and co-curricular experiences.

Community-Engaged Departments/Programs lead the institution in the development of engaged citizen scholars by aligning with the public purpose of higher education and integrating community engagement into departmental mission, climate, and culture. As described by Campus Compact, community-engaged departments are those who have adopted strategies for including community-based work in their teaching and scholarship, making community-based experiences a standard expectation for majors, and encouraging civic and community engagement at the department level.

To obtain the Community-Engaged Department/Program designation, a department must show they have developed a culture that rewards and encourages community-engaged work completed by students, faculty, and staff. Department/program policies should include community engagement language, and engagement opportunities should be blended into research, academic, and co-curricular work. The following self-assessment can be used to determine if your department/program qualifies for USU’s Community-Engaged Department/Program designation:


The following self-assessment can be used to determine if your department/program qualifies for USU’s Community-Engaged Department/Program Designation:



CE departments or programs must meet criteria in bold, and a minimum of 2 additional criteria

  • Community engagement is tracked and assessed systematically.
    • Department utilizes campus-wide reporting mechanisms such as AggiePulse or can make their data available to the Center for Community Engagement for outside reporting, such as the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.
  • Community/civic engagement or community-based learning is referenced in department/program documents such as mission statements, learning objectives, or strategic plans.
  • Faculty, staff, students, and outside observers can see that community engagement is part of the department’s mission and identity.
    • Marketing materials, department leaders, and faculty articulate a consistent message about the importance of community engagement for their department.
    • Engagement is used as a recruiting tool.
    • Community-engaged research results and project successes are shared and celebrated.
  • Faculty are recognized for community engagement work (research, teaching, and co-curricular) and encouraged (funding, tenure & promotion, etc.) to engage in these practices.
    • Faculty in the unit are encouraged to pursue research initiatives that are applied or have a clearly defined application in a community setting.
    • Faculty understand how to document their community work for tenure & promotion.
    • Hiring announcements include text to indicate commitment to community engagement, and candidates practicing community engagement are recognized.
  • Faculty and staff are offered time off for curricular, research, or co-curricular community engagement related activities, or department completes community projects together annually.
  • The unit regularly collaborates and shares best practices, engagement opportunities and lessons learned (i.e. lesson plans, project Scope of Work, partner information, and multi-disciplinary project opportunities).

Academic Engagement

CE departments or programs must meet criteria in bold, and a minimum of 2 additional criteria.

  • A minimum of 10% of courses offered through department/program contain a Community Engaged Learning component and are Community-Engaged Learning (CEL) designated.
    • The department acknowledges the workload in preparing for and teaching a Community-Engaged Learning designated class.
    • Designated courses are offered regularly and taught by a number of faculty members.
  • Faculty are encouraged to pursue research initiatives that engage community, have application within a community setting, and/or assess the benefits of community engagement in higher education.
  • Students are involved in community-based research projects, either within or outside the classroom.
  • Departmental funding for academic or research-oriented activities recognizes community engagement as a valued element of the academic experience at USU.
  • Faculty are permitted to attend and use department funds for conferences, workshops, or events that have a community engagement element.
  • Community partners are viewed as co-educators in the education of students and mechanisms are in place to ensure reciprocity in partnerships. (Departments/Programs are encouraged to utilize the existing CCE Community Bridge partnership program rather than developing their own mechanisms to ensure reciprocity.)
    • Community partners understand their role in project development and implementation; how to access resources through the department/program; and have regular opportunity to provide feedback to the department/program.

Co-Curricular Engagement

CE departments or programs must meet a minimum of 2 of the following criteria.

  • Students understand why they are involved in community-based work and gain professional skills and experience through engagement opportunities.
  • Community-based experiences for majors or within degree programs are required.
    • Capstone experience must include a community focus.
    • Majors must complete a set number of unpaid community-based hours.
  • Student-run organizations and clubs are encouraged to require a community engagement component.
  • AggiePulse is utilized for tracking and assessment of engagement experiences.
    • Students understand how to find community opportunities through database.
    • Student clubs have portal to advertise events and track engagement.
    • Faculty require CEL courses to log hours, and are aware of how to find opportunities and obtain data for their own reporting needs.
  • Students in the major have multiple formal and informal opportunities.
    • Global experiences or fieldwork are offered for students while completing their requirements within the department.
    • Information about community engagement opportunities outside of the department is made available to students (i.e. Service Center, AmeriCorps, volunteer opportunities)
  • Students in the major understand why they are involved in community-based work and gain professional skills and experience through engagement opportunities
  • The department can identify long-term partnerships with community organizations/agencies through both curricular and co-curricular engagement.

Completed forms should be submitted to the USU Center for Community Engagement for review and approval. For assistance, please email Kate Stephens, call 435-797-8135, or visit TSC 318.