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).

The transition from the SL to the CEL designation will take place over a three year period ending in Spring 2022. 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 2022 will be ineligible for CEL credit, and their SL designation will be removed, effective Fall 2022.

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 your school's Curriculum Committee chair 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, Academic Assistant Dean, College of Arts & Sciences (administrative co-chair)

Keith O. Hunter, School of Management (faculty co-chair; through Spring 2021)

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

Stephanie Sears, Sociology, College of Arts & Sciences (through Spring 2020)

Roberto Gutièrrez Varea, Theater, College of Arts & Sciences (through Spring 2020)

cel committee meetings spring 2020

  • February 12
  • March 4
  • March 17
  • April 8
  • May 13

Cultural Diversity Requirement


Foreign Language Requirement