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About Us



Whether training students, offering faculty development programs, or collaborating with our community, the work that the Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning accomplishes is grounded in principles of community-engaged scholarship and teaching, as well as in the community-organizing model.

Community-Engaged Scholarship and Teaching

Community Organizing Training

Community-engaged scholarship and teaching comprise intellectually and methodologically rigorous work that is grounded in the norms of democratic education: inclusiveness, participation, task sharing, reciprocity in public problem solving, and an equality of respect for the knowledge and experience that everyone involved contributes to education and community building.

At their heart, community-engaged scholarship and teaching differ from approaches that emphasize one-way applications of academic expertise to community problems. Instead, community-engaged scholarship and teaching intentionally:

  • Emphasize the co-production of knowledge in the context of reciprocal partnerships with local stakeholders.
  • Pursue the renewal of democracy and the kind of public action that works to confront public problems and social justice through democratic means.
  • Demonstrate strong collaboration with community partners in proposal and project development.
  • Forge collaborative enterprises between academic researchers (professors and students) and community members, which validate multiple sources of knowledge. This also promotes using multiple methods of discovery and disseminating gained knowledge.

Community Organizing

Community organizing has a rich history in American social movements and is about people working together for systemic social change. Community organizing focuses on developing collective self-interests by working with others and taking action on issues the community cares about through true democracy (in which the power is with the people). Our organizing model is not about the short-term mobilization of protests or rallies. Rather, community organizing is about:

  • achieving long-term change through building powerful, public relationships
  • influencing and negotiating with government, corporations and institutions
  • achieving direct representation
  • holding decision-makers accountable to the people through public actions

The History of CCESL

In May 2005, CCESL emerged as a result of a merger between two former university based programs, the Community Action Program and the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement. During these formative years, CCESL was charged with providing support and coordination of DU’s public work. The center was considered a University-wide organization dedicated to the creation, design, development, processing and implementation of public good work. The second Director oversaw the continued development of CCESL from 2006-2010. A new leadership model was implemented in early 2011 such that the Director position transitioned from a full-time staff member to a faculty member who serves as Director part-time. At that time, CCESL identified four initiatives, as part of a strategic planning process to deepen and strengthen the center’s mission and vision.