UM Common Definitions

The Grisham-McLean Institute, in collaboration with the Council on Community Engagement, works to craft a common vernacular around community engagement, and to elevate best practices that promote service and transformation. The following definitions were adopted in September 2018.

Community Engagement describes collaboration between UM and partnering communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity while fulfilling UM’s mission of scholarly learning, research, and service.

Communities consist of groups of people in the public and private sectors who are affiliated by geographic proximity, special interests, or situational similarities at the local, regional/state, national, or global levels.

Community-Engaged Learning denotes academically-based community engaged courses that may integrate a range of teaching and learning strategies, including, but not limited to: service-learning, Co-op, externship, internship, practicum, clinical, capstone, research project, public service, practice-based learning, experiential education, and experiential learning. Community-engaged learning uses a defined curriculum and can be formal (credit granting) or non-formal (non-credit granting).

Community-Engaged Research refers to a research partnership between UM and communities that is mutually beneficial and includes some degree of shared decision making and leadership between communities and UM.

Community-Engaged Service defines collaboration between members of UM and a community or community-based group that results in beneficial services. Community-engaged service may, or may not, be related to an academic program and can be performed by students, faculty, and staff. Community-engaged service includes co-curricular service and civic engagement.

Scholarship of Engagement or Engaged Scholarship is scholarship resulting from the collaborative and mutually beneficial partnership between university member(s) (i.e. faculty, staff, and/or student) and external non-higher education partner(s). Engaged scholarship is typically created and communicated through any of the following activities: discovery of new knowledge, development of new knowledge, dissemination of new knowledge, change in learning, change in behavior and/or change in conditions[1].

Community Partner includes any non-higher education individuals, groups, and organizations from the public and private sectors.

Partnership – an association between community partner(s) and UM to undertake a shared, mutually beneficial action or endeavor.

Outreach – activities that serve UM and the community by facilitating and providing learning experiences that engage minds, transform lives, and serve others while inspiring change and growth by building relationships and working collaboratively with University students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners.

Civic Engagement is a type of community-engaged service that fosters citizenship through engagement in issues of public interest and/or participation in governance activities.

Co-curricular Service is a type of community-engaged service performed by faculty, staff, and/or students that is not formally linked to an academic curriculum, but fosters student learning.

Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that uses reflection to link community service with academic course objectives to enrich the educational experience of students, teach civic responsibility, and meet the needs of a community.     

Scholarship “is creative intellectual work that is validated by peers and communicated[2]” to the larger world. Scholarship includes, but is not limited to, obtaining grants, conducting research, writing scholarly publications, delivering presentations, creating curricula, creating art, and producing artistic performances.

Mutuality refers to an interdependence or shared interest, purpose, or benefit between two or more collaborators.

Reciprocity refers to a mutually beneficial exchange between UM and its community partners. 

[1] Franz, N. (2009). A holistic model of engaged scholarship: Telling the story across higher education’s missions. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 13(4), 31-49.

[2] Weiser, C. J. and Houglum, L. (1998). Scholarship unbound for the 21st Century. Journal of Extension, 36(4). Retrieved from