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Community Service Learning

This is a form of experiential education where "students engage in activities that address community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote intentional learning goals" (

CSL takes students into the community as part of the learning experience. The real-life situation provides the concrete experience for students to apply their developing knowledge and skills and to deepen their understanding by reflecting on their learning. CSL is often used as a strategy to address not only course-based material but also to help students develop an awareness of the value of civic engagement.

Note: There are forms of Community Service Learning that are co-curricular in nature. They often include volunteering opportunities for students. In these forms, CSL is not-for-credit. For our purposes, we are addressing only academically embedded CSL.

Key Features

How do students engage in EE?

Students may engage by providing direct service (other than research) to the community or by taking on a project defined by a community organization.

To what extent are community partners engaged/involved?

Community partners often participate in the assessment of the students and may benefit from this work which may take the form of service and/or project reports, presentations, or recommendations. The experience may require a formal partnership by way of an affiliation agreement between York University and the partner organization outlining items such as obligations of York University, obligations of the partner organization, insurance considerations and other specifics pertaining to the activity.

Is priority given to student learning outcomes or community partner needs?

A service learning project or opportunity is structured so that it benefits both student learning and the partner organization.

How long and how frequently do these experiences occur?

CSL can vary in length, from a project that takes place over a few weeks to a project that spans the duration of the course. During CSL students work at the community partner’s site and keep regular hours.

How are students remunerated?

Students receive academic credit for Community Service Learning. Community Service Learning activities are unpaid.

Course Example

LAPS: AP/COMN 4703 6.00, Communication Studies, Children, Media, Education and Change

Through the study of various media, we examine the role of communication technology in child development and social change related to gender, culture, ethnicity, and families, while exploring the meaning of childhood as reflected in media. EE Component: Working in small teams, students do a collaborative project with a local youth organization.


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