Service Learning in the CSU

Faculty, students, and administrators in the California State University (CSU) have been partnering with their local communities since the first CSU campus was founded in 1857. These partnerships not only improve the quality of life across California, but they also advance faculty research, help to enhance students’ subject knowledge, develop their job-ready skills, and increase their sense of responsibility and efficacy. As a result of these experiences, students are gaining an understanding of community, our democracy and furthering their relationships with one another and those around them. 

The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) — the first office of its kind in the U.S. — was established at the CSU Office of the Chancellor in 1998 with a goal of graduating students to be more socially responsible within their communities. It institutionalized service learning at all 23 campuses, which led to passing landmark resolutions by the Board of Trustees and Systemwide Academic Senate that ensure all students have the opportunity to participate in community service and service learning during their time at the CSU.

Service learning as a high-impact practice This link will take you to an external website in a new tab. (HIP) is vital to improving student success as it applies classroom knowledge to real-world experiences and brings real world experiences into the classroom. Addressing environmental justice, researching urban poverty, and serving at nonprofit organizations are just some of the high-quality opportunities that engage students in issues affecting their communities. Not only does community engagement prepare students to become change agents, but their peer relationships are also strengthened.

The CSU’s commitment to increasing access to high-quality service-learning courses, particularly for students from historically underserved communities, supports campus efforts to achieve the CSU’s goals of closing equity gaps, improving time to degree and increasing completion rates. Along with its stellar faculty, CCE’s programs and scholarships advance the CSU’s commitment to inclusivity, equity, and student success.