Graduation Requirements

Community Engaged Learning (CEL, formerly Service Learning)

As of Fall 2019 the Service Learning (SL) graduation requirement and designation is changing to Community Engaged Learning (CEL). Faculty developing proposals for CEL-designated courses should now build the course and syllabus around the new CEL learning outcomes and dimensions, posted below. Proposals for CEL designation, as well as the overall process of transitioning from the SL to the CEL graduation requirement, will be overseen by the Community Engaged Learning Committee (see below). CEL courses must be 4 units; in rare cases, with review and approval by the CEL Committee, departments might design a series of multiple CEL courses for fewer units (e.g., two consecutive 2-unit courses), but the total units across these courses should be at least 4 units. Students will have to complete 4 units of CEL to meet the graduation requirement. 

The transition from the SL to the CEL designation will take place over a multiyear period ending in Spring 2023. During the transition, both SL and CEL classes will be counted as fulfilling the graduation requirement. All SL courses must be revised and resubmitted for the CEL designation within the transition period. SL courses that have not received CEL designation by February 2023 will be ineligible for CEL credit, and their SL designation will be removed, effective Fall 2023.

Requests to add a CEL designation to a course should be submitted through our curriculum management system, Curriculog.

Resources for developing CEL courses and converting SL to CEL

The McCarthy Center offers excellent resources for faculty interested in learning more about Community Engaged Learning.

  • Faculty submitted courses for the CEL designation must complete the CEL Course Checklist. Please attach the completed checklist to the proposal in Curriculog.
  • Faculty designing or redesigning courses for CEL designation are strongly encouraged to consult the CEL Course Design Worksheet. This sheet breaks down key CEL syllabus elements and includes examples of language that can be imported into syllabi and edited.
  • The Community Engaged Learning and Teaching (CELT) fellowship is an interactive learning community about the principles and practices of community-engaged learning; participants, who receive a stipend, also produce a syllabus through the fellowship. Please contact Star Plaxton Moore for details.
  • Periodic workshops are also offered for faculty interested in developing a new CEL course as well as for faculty interested in revising an existing course for CEL designation. Please contact Star Plaxton Moore or your school's Curriculum Committee chair for details.
  • Faculty teaching CEL courses may want to also consult the resources on Topics for Faculty to Discuss with Potential Community Partners and best practices in Community Partnership relations.
  • Faculty seeking a model syllabus can view this COMS 369 sample syllabus.

Please contact the CEL Review Committee co-chairs for further details and resources for developing CEL courses. 

CEL Outcomes

Consistent with USF's mission and vision, and the essential dimensions of community-engaged learning, the following learning outcomes should be integrated into the course:

  • Analyze the dynamics, strengths, and priorities of a group, community, or environment with which students engage.
  • Examine an environmental or social justice issue, including its root causes, impacts, intersections with other issues, and possible solutions.
  • Analyze one’s own and others’ beliefs, values, social identities, and world views and their implications for how one defines and contributes to the common good.

CEL courses should also address the following key dimensions:

  • Purpose: 
    • Develop students' knowledge and concern about communities and environments most affected by injustice, and prepare them to lead lives committed to equity and social justice.  
    • Contribute to the common good by building the capacity of individuals and organizations to address community-identified priorities and desires.  
  • Relationships:
    • Foster reciprocal and authentic relationships that honor community partners as co-educators.  
    • Reflect shared leadership and solidarity with community over mere transactional relationships.
    • Integrate sustained community relationships, ongoing communication, shared expectations, and plans for addressing interpersonal and institutional challenges. 
  • Process: 
    • Draw upon student and community voices to shape the course's learning and engagement activities.
    • Integrate guided critical reflection before, during and after engagement to help students make meaning of intersections between academic knowledge, civic engagement, and understanding of diversity, positionality, and power.
    • Include formative and summative assessment of student learning and community outcomes to improve current and future community engagement. 
  • Forms:
    • Frame the course in terms of known pedagogical models including service-learning, participatory and community based research, internship, field experience, or immersion.
    • Demonstrate a public purpose, a vision of social justice and equity, shared interests of community members, and transformational learning experiences for students.
    • Reflect a commitment to equitable community engagement in both course content and pedagogy.
    • Prioritize the quality of the community experience over quantity of hours, but aim for a minimum of 20 hours of engagement. 

The Community Engaged Learning Committee

The Community Engaged Learning (CEL) Committee is responsible for reviewing CEL course proposals and overseeing the transition from SL to CEL, including the provision of CEL trainings and resources (which will be provided by the McCarthy Center). Proposals for CEL designations, course syllabi and supporting information are submitted by faculty and reviewed by the committee within Curriculog and discussed at in-person committee meetings. The McCarthy Center provides reviewer guidance to assist in the process. The CEL Committee is comprised of one administrative member appointed by the Provost, three faculty members appointed by the USF Faculty Association, and one non-voting administrative staff member. 

The current CEL Committee:

Joshua Gamson, Interim Associate Dean of Social Sciences, College of Arts & Sciences (administrative co-chair)

Roberto Gutièrrez Varea, Theater, College of Arts & Sciences (through Fall 2021)

Monika Hudson, School of Management (through Spring 2023)

Keith O. Hunter, School of Management (faculty co-chair; through Spring 2022)

Star Plaxton-Moore, Director of Community Engaged Learning, McCarthy Center (administrative staff)

Committee Administrative Support: Ella Frazer, Program Assistant

cel committee meetings Fall 2021

  • September 9
  • September 22
  • October 6
  • October 20
  • November 3
  • November 17
  • December 1
  • December 15

Community-Engaged Learning Review Committee Bylaws 

The Community-Engaged Learning (CEL) Review Committee reviews course proposals and makes determinations about whether courses will receive the undergraduate CEL designation. The Committee also provides support and guidance to faculty, departments, and administrators about how to plan, implement, and assess CEL courses.


The committee has five members, including three faculty appointed by USFFA, one administration member appointed by the Provost’s Office, and an ex officio (non-voting) member from the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good. Faculty appointees should represent diverse departments across social sciences, sciences, arts, and humanities, and include at least one faculty member from the School of Education, School of Management, or School of Nursing and Health Professions. The committee will be co-chaired by the Provost’s appointee and one of the USFFA faculty appointees.

The standard term for appointed faculty serving on the CEL Review Committee is three years. Exceptions for shorter or staggered terms can be made at the discretion of the co-chairs in consultation with the committee.


Co-chairs determine the time and place of meetings, and develop and make available meeting agendas and materials at least one week before each meeting via Curriculog. Decisions about the CEL designation are reached by consensus or by majority vote of members present. An administrative staff member (typically a Dean’s Office program assistant) will take minutes at each meeting and distribute them to committee members the week before the next meeting; this administrative work will rotate across the schools served by the CEL Committee.


●    Full-time faculty members may propose CEL curriculum changes, after obtaining department or program approval, by submitting a “New Course” or “Modify Course” proposal within Curriculog.
●    Part-time faculty members may propose a CEL course to the department, working in consultation with the chair and full-time faculty to ensure that the course aligns with the department curriculum. The proposal for CEL approval must be submitted to Curriculog by full-time faculty. 
●    The CEL Review Committee reviews all CEL course proposals.
●    The CEL Review Committee co-chairs distribute the agenda with links to relevant proposals in Curriculog, accessible to all voting and non-voting members, prior to each meeting.
●    Co-chairs may invite faculty members who are proposing CEL courses to attend the meeting.
●    The decisions and feedback of the CEL Review Committee are entered into Curriculog by the co-chairs. “Approve” sends the proposal to the relevant Dean’s Office for final review and then to the Curriculog administrator and scheduler for entry into Banner. “Reject” sends the proposal back to the faculty originator for revisions; when the originator completes the revisions and resubmits the proposal, it will re-enter the CEL Review Committee process as outlined above. The Committee may also decide to conditionally approve the proposal, empowering the co-chairs to finalize the approval in Curriculog once those conditions have been met.

Other Support Roles

●    Oversee tracking of the number and disciplinary diversity of CEL courses being offered and facilitate coordination between the Deans and departments to ensure that all undergraduates have options for completing the CEL requirement.
●    Facilitate professional development workshops and consultations with faculty to support design and implementation of CEL courses.
●    Guide development and dissemination of assessment resources, and oversee institution-wide assessment of CEL outcomes.

Approved by CEL Committee, October 2019. Approved by USFFA Policy Board, September 16, 2020.

Cultural Diversity Requirement


Foreign Language Requirement