"Personally, the sense of community that I felt each time I participated in the [service learning portion] is stronger than any other I've experienced. I was naturally apprehensive to mingle with the already-close volunteer group, but I was quickly welcomed into this elite group of dedicated volunteers. Each volunteer has such a pure and genuine passion for making a different, and the diversity in demographic was really quite refreshing to see..."
"Doing this service learning project has taken me on an interesting path. It has made me a better, more appreciative person for the environment. The next time we are just sitting on the couch or texting bored out of our minds start thinking what could we do to become civically engaged. Our opportunity is waiting, get motivated and get into your community."
Warren-Sharpe Community Center (Public Relations)
"My service learning class this semester at Lewis was beyond amazing. I worked with a community center in Joliet. I learned so much about what having a real PR job is actually like. The real world experiences taught me way more than any other class I have had before. The part I liked the most was being able to help the community center with my knowledge of PR. I would highly recommend a service learning class to anyone who hasn't had one before."
Addison Community Switchboard (Public Relations)
"The service learning component was such a great experience because not only was I able to strengthen my PR skills, but I did that while working with an organization that does great things for its community. It's nice to know that the work I did and the tools I created really matter. It was a wonderful opportunity to make a difference."
CEL Course Student
"CEL has taught me how important it is to communicate with others. It has given me more ideas and has allowed me to express my opinions and thoughts."
Dr. Jennifer Buss
College of Education and Social Sciences
"I love what [CEL] has done for our students. I feel that CEL has set our candidates apart in their communication and their professionalism."
Coffee & Conversation Participant
"Continuing this tradition and getting more people involved would offer more diverse perspectives and ideas."
Community Engaged Learning (CEL) Courses
Why Community Engaged Learning Courses?
What to Expect in a Community Engaged Learning (CEL) Course
CEL courses help students to:
Apply what they’re learning in the classroom while serving real needs in the community.
Engage with the community in ways that allow them to build relationships and apply their classroom learning.
Collaborate with peers, the course instructor and community partners.
Critically reflect on their experiences in ways that deepen learning about course topics, themselves, and society.
Contribute to the learning of classmates.
Deepen their understanding and appreciation of different cultures, realities, joys, and challenges as found in the community where they partner.
Develop leadership skills and grow in confidence as potential agents of change.
Types of CEL Courses
Community engaged learning (CEL) courses tend to involve students in the community through in two primary ways:
Direct engagement CEL invites students to build relationships at an organization by consistently being present, on-site or virtually, with the same group of community members working with an organization.
Example: Students in Dr. Emily Shayman’s Introduction to Social Work course support programs at Community Lifeline Ministries in Joliet. Some Lewis students assist with GEMS, an after-school program, which allows them to get to know elementary and middle school youth, helping them with homework and participating in fun activities after school. Other Lewis students work with the Blessing Table, a hot meal site and food pantry where people can come to access food for free.
Project-based CEL engages students with community partners around particular tasks. Students studying a specific topic will work on a project related to that topic on behalf of a partner organization, often in a small group of students.
Example: Students in Dr. Mike Lewis’ Software Systems Capstone course work each semester with a different set of community partners. During the Fall 2022 semester, students partnered with the Fairmont Community Partnership Group, Inc. (FCPGI) to develop a website for the organization. Students worked independently to craft the website based on conversations and electronic communication with FCPGI leadership about the content, layout, and functionality of the site. At the conclusion of the semester, students presented their work to FCPGI for feedback and their use as a live website.