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How Mississippi State University Defines Community-Engaged Learning

The definitions provided below were adapted and elaborated from Mississippi State University’s Vision and Mission Statement, Strategic Plan, the “Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement” report, and examinations of definitions used at peer institutions in the southeast and other regions of the U.S. They were approved by the Community Engagement Committee in spring 2016 and are the university-wide accepted definitions of these terms.

Community Engagement describes collaboration between MSU and partnering communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity while fulfilling MSU's mission of scholarly teaching, research, and service.

Venn Engagement Diagram

Partnership Chart

Communities consist of groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interests, or situational similarities at the local, regional/state, national, or global levels.
Mutuality refers to an interdependence or shared interest, purpose, or benefit between two or more collaborators.
Partnership is an association between communities and MSU to undertake a shared, mutually beneficial action or endeavor.
Reciprocity refers to a mutually beneficial exchange between MSU and its community partners.

Community Service defines collaboration between members of MSU and a community or community-based group that results in beneficial services. Community service may, or may not, be related to an academic program and can be performed by students, faculty, and staff. Community service includes co-curricular service and civic engagement.

Civic Engagement is a type of community service that fosters citizenship through engagement in issues of public interest and/or participation in governance activities.
Co-curricular Service is a type of community service performed by students that is not formally linked to an academic curriculum, but fosters student learning.
Community-Engaged Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that uses reflection to link community service with academic course objectives to enrich the educational experience of students, teach civic responsibility, and meet the needs of a community.

Community-engaged Research (synonymous with Community-based Research) refers to a research partnership between MSU and communities that is mutually beneficial and includes some degree of shared decision making and leadership between communities and MSU.

Community-engaged Learning (synonymous with Community-based Learning) denotes academically-based community engaged courses that may integrate a range of teaching and learning strategies, including, but not limited to: service-learning, Co-op, externship, internship, practicum, clinical, capstone, research project, public service, practice-based learning, experiential education, and experiential learning.

Scholarship of Engagement is scholarship resulting from the collaborative and mutually beneficial partnership between university member(s) (i.e. faculty, staff, and/or student) and external non-higher education partner(s). Engaged scholarship is typically created and communicated through any of the following activities: discovery of new knowledge, development of new knowledge, dissemination of new knowledge, change in learning, change in behavior and/or change in conditions[1].

Scholarship "is creative intellectual work that is validated by peers and communicated[2]" to the larger world. Scholarship includes, but is not limited to, obtaining grants, conducting research, writing scholarly publications, delivering presentations, creating curricula, creating art, and producing artistic performances.

Extension provides MSU's research-based information, educational programs, and technology transfer focused on issues and needs of the people of Mississippi, enabling them to make informed decisions about their economic, social, and cultural well-being.

[1] Franz, N. (2009). A holistic model of engaged scholarship: Telling the story across higher education's missions. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 13(4), 31-49.

[2] Weiser, C. J. and Houglum, L. (1998). Scholarship unbound for the 21st Century. Journal of Extension, 36(4). Retrieved from https://www.joe.org/joe/1998august/a1.php