Community-Based Learning

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Community-University Engagement

"a collection of practices loosely grouped under a policy framework designed to connect ... a university with its naturally constituent community" (Muirhead, as cited in Watson, 2003, p. 16).

"strenuous, thoughtful, argumentative interaction with the non-university world in at least four spheres: setting universities' aims, purposes and priorities; relating teaching and learning to the wider world; the back-and forth dialogue between researchers and practitioners; and taking on wide responsibilities as neighbours and citizens (Association of Commonweath Universities, 2002, p.i).

Experiential Learning

A model of continuous learning in which a learner has a concrete experience, makes observations and reflections about the experience, and finally forms generalizations which are applied in future situations (Kolb, 1984).

Transformative Learning

“a process in which we become critically reflective of our own assumptions, arrive at an insight, and justify our new perspective through discourse” (Mezirow, 1991, p.190).

Community-Based Learning

A type of experiential learning "in which the community [nonprofit organizations, community-based groups, or a social/environmental issues] becomes a partner in the learning process" (Mooney & Edwards, 2001, p.182). The reflection that happens as a part of this experiential process enhances academic learning and also elicits civic learning. Community-based learning is an umbrella term that can encompass (though not always) activities in which community-university engagement happens through curriculum.

  • Community Service Learning
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Community-Based Internships
  • Community-Based Practica
  • Co-operative Education

Civic Learning

Civic learning is the development of knowledge, skills and opinions/values that enable the learner to be an engaged citizen. Civic engagement is "working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes" (Ehrlich, 2000, Streams of civic learning include:

  • diversity of communities and cultures,
  • analysis of knowledge,
  • civic identity and commitment,
  • civic communication,
  • civic action and reflection, and
  • civic contexts/structures (Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2009).

Community-Based Learning at SFU

For resources and static information, visit For errors and omissions, contact Trina Isakson at


Course #
Course Name
Types of community-based learning/projects/placements
SA 498
Marilyn Gates, John Bogardus

Interested Staff and Faculty

Trina Isakson Coordinator, Volunteer Services and Community-Based Learning campus-wide
Candace LeRoy Sustainability Coordinator (incl. supporting sustainability education) campus-wide

Vanessa Richards Director, Community Engagement through the Arts Harbour Centre

Tyler Morgenstern Outreach and Community Engagement Assistant, School of Communication Burnaby 27353
Shaheen Nanji Director, International Development and Faculty Engagement, SFU International campus-wide 25576

Engagement and Discussions