“Without community service, we would not have a strong quality of life. It’s important to the person who serves as well as the recipient. It’s the way in which we ourselves grow and develop.”

Dorothy Height

Defining Community Engagement

Community engagement is defined as the extent to which college and university students serve the unmet human needs of people in their communities (i.e. housing, health issues, hunger, etc.). The term community engagement includes community service and civic engagement activities consistent with Putnam’s concept of social capital that require the time and effort of the participant, with the ultimate goal of bettering the community. In the context of the NASCE, community engagement incorporates all community service activities participated in by students through individual efforts, clubs or organizations, work or internships and classes.

The NASCE instrument asks students about their participation in community engagement across multiple areas of human need. Definitions are as follows:

students cleaning up trash

Service & Community Engagement

Any activity, including internships and work study, in which you participate with the goal of providing, generating and/or sustaining help for individuals and groups who have unmet human needs in areas like shelter, health, nutrition, education, and opportunity.

Areas of Need

  • Civic Participation or Public Advocacy (e.g. voter awareness, human rights, refugees & immigration, interfaith dialogue)
  • Economic access or development (e.g., tax assistance, job training, fair trade)
  • Environmental (e.g. local clean-up, environmental advocacy, green initiatives)
  • Health or Medical (e.g. donating blood, visiting the sick, raising money to combat a disease, anti-obesity programs)
  • Youth development or services (e.g. tutoring, coaching, working on a toy drive)
  • Housing Accessibility or Homelessness (e.g. Habitat for Humanity, affordable housing, housing policy)
  • Elder care or engagement (e.g. adopt a grandparent, nursing home, rehabilitation)
  • Food insecurity or nutrition (e.g. soup kitchen, food drive, food policy)

Interested in taking the NASCE?

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