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Our Approach

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 first fulltime staff Director oversaw the development of CCESL from 2006-2010. In 2011, a new leadership model was implemented 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 focused on community-engaged learning, community-engaged research and creative work, civic development, and service. Those four initiatives grew into six strategic goals that guided CCESL from 2015 to 2018.

In 2018, CCESL refined our name and strategic goals (see our work). Under the banner of the Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning, CCESL's work has evolved to integrate seamlessly with the University's strategic plan, IMPACT 2025. From our foundation of successful programming as well as new opportunities through IMPACT 2025, CCESL continues to grow and engage the entire campus community while harnessing the expertise and innovation of faculty, staff, students and community members to pursue ambitious public good goals.

Progress and Accountability 

Through monthly Public Good Newsletters as well as End of Year Reports (accessible below), CCESL reports regularly on progress towards our goals and achievements, which directly contribute to DU's public good vision.