CEL Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • Talk with your department chair to determine whether there’s a need/interest in integrating your proposed CEL course into the department curriculum. 
  • Review USF’s Community Engaged Learning Dimensions and Student Learning Outcomes, which you will need to integrate into your course.
  • Connect with the McCarthy Center’s Director of Community Engaged Learning, Star Plaxton-Moore to participate in a course consultation, CEL workshop, and/or the Community-Engaged Learning and Teaching Fellowship, described below (optional, but highly recommended).
  • Draft your community engaged learning course syllabus and proposal. Review examples here (must log in using USF credentials).
  • Complete the CEL Self Assessment Rubric to accompany your proposal and syllabus.
  • Submit syllabus, checklist and proposal to the Community-Engaged Learning Course Review Committee via Curriculog. Be sure to “approve” your own course in Curriculog after you submit the proposal so it can move on to your department chair for approval.

The CEL Review Committee meets every two weeks. The schedule for the current semester is posted on the CEL website. Depending on the number of proposals to review, and the order in which they are submitted, the committee may review your proposal at the next meeting after your submission date or at the subsequent meeting in two weeks. Once the committee has reviewed the proposal and determined its decision, the chairs will be in touch within 1-2 days after the decision is made. 

Please see the Provost's CEL webpage for resources on designing CEL courses. The McCarthy Center’s faculty resource page also contains a wealth of resources. In particular, we encourage you to use the following (add links to documents for the first four bullet points and the syllabus repository for the fifth bullet):

The following faculty have offered themselves as CEL ambassadors to support you in designing or revising your course:

Because of the limited time frame, it is extremely challenging to create a high quality CEL experience that fosters meaningful student learning and engagement while also meeting community-identified priorities and needs during an intersession or 3-week summer term.  However, there are a few examples of well-designed short-term CEL immersion courses, so it is possible. You can see an example of a high quality intersession course, THRS 240 - Gender, Poverty, and Justice here

In general, a short term intensive CEL course would need to include: 

  • frequent and consistent immersion in and with community (minimum of 20 hours) 
  • substantive but manageable readings and curriculum to contextualize the experience 
  • structured opportunities for critical reflection
  • assignments that allow faculty to measure students’ achievement of learning outcomes
  • accountability for how the course will benefit the partnering community and/or organization 

If you are considering designing and running a CEL course during intersession or the 3-week summer semester, you should be prepared to write a justification for why this particular format and timeline are appropriate for the course.

While CEL courses were originally designed for students to engage with community through in-person activities, the pandemic has transformed learning and teaching in ways that might endure post-pandemic.  This includes a move to sustain hyflex and remote learning options for students, particularly those who may not be able to participate in-person due to travel restrictions (e.g. international students) or documented health concerns. In these cases, faculty can consider providing remote CEL options to individual students within courses that otherwise require in-person engagement. Alternatively, faculty might support students in finding their own in-person engagement in their home communities. These alternative CEL experiences should still align with the CEL dimensions, allow students to meet the CEL outcomes, and be relevant to the course themes and content.

You may want to check with your existing community partners to see whether they have remote opportunities for students. To guide you in imagining possible activities and assignments, consider the following examples of things that students could do remotely for organizations:

  • conducting background research or gathering best practices or other information requested the partner(s)
  • taping, recording, or streaming performances or workshops to benefit community partner(s)
  • creating digital and other social media content, print program materials, or other methods for information-sharing
  • undertaking assessment, evaluation, or feedback via phone or web-based services;
  • offering (or compiling, researching, or brainstorming) strategies that provide indirect support from volunteers as a result of coronavirus
  • conducting virtual or phone-based educational supports for youth and adults

You will need to have a conversation with community partners to confirm that they want and need the services suggested above, and generate shared expectations for deliverables and accountability indicators for students, before directing your students to proceed with these projects.

Alternatively, you may ask students to seek their own remote CEL options, or in-person opportunities in their home communities (in the case of international students). Students should be given guidelines for how to identify and set up a partnership so the experience aligns with your expectations. Additionally, it is helpful to create a document that you or the student can share with community partners so they know what is expected of them. Guidelines might include:

  • Number of hours required for students to commit to partner organizations
  • Communication/feedback protocols and expectations, including exchanging contact info between faculty, student, and community partner
  • Description of course and other details that may be useful (e.g. assignments and deadlines related to CEL) to ensure they align with partner expectations
  • Description of community partner organization, including mission, services, etc. to ensure it is a good fit for the course content