Community Engaged Learning

Highlights from the UK Service Learning and Community Engaged Learning Network webinar, 8 March 2023.

In this blogpost, Hannah Cowell shares inspiring stories from the UK SL/CEL Network Webinar hosted last month. Read on to hear more about innovative pedagogy and where to find support to embed community engaged learning into your own teaching.

Community engaged learning gives students the opportunity to apply skills and knowledge from their academic studies to a real-world question, by working in partnership with community organisations through a variety of methods including consultancy and co-production.

The Service-Learning/ Community Engaged Learning (SL/CEL) Network in the UK aims to become the national Community of Practice for HE practitioners who work in partnership with communities for positive social change and for enhancing student learning.

On Wednesday 8th March, the UK SL/CEL Network hosted a webinar on sharing practice examples of community engaged learning in the curriculum.

The webinar offered the chance for us to hear examples of practice from sociology, computer science and planning and was attended by a variety of participants including students, academics and professional services staff from multiple universities.

The three examples presented were:

  • International Service Learning Project with students from multiple Universities in the UK/USA
  • Student presenters: Beth Hall, Chloe Yates, Maddie Hollick and Ruby Sturgess

    “Since 2013 sociology students in the department of social and political science at Nottingham Trent University have engaged in a core critical service-learning module. They work in partnership with our third sector on live projects set by the community. Underpinning this work is a commitment to social justice, mutual benefit and reciprocity. Last year we ran our first collaborative international project with colleagues and students from North American universities and the United Nations. In brief this involved students working in groups, virtually, building understandings around a chosen SGD from which they developed a service learning project for students to run this academic year. Their output was a service-learning project calling upon on the civic mission of universities to work in partnership with homelessness organisations in their home towns/cities.” The students shared their experiences of this collaborative international service-learning experience with the network and the tangible benefits they gained.

    • The Bartlett School of Planning at UCL

    Speaker – Elena Besussi, Lecturer in Plan-Making and Strategic Planning, The Bartlett School of Planning, UCL.

    “The Bartlett School of Planning runs 11 Postgraduate and 3 Undergraduate programmes, all leading to accreditation to professional bodies. Since 2014, Community Engaged Teaching and Learning was introduced into the curriculum of MSc programmes and it is compulsory for 2 of these programmes. It is delivered in the form of collaborative projects with London grassroots groups and focuses on the co-production of contextual and technical planning knowledge.” In this presentation, module design and coursework assessment were discussed to highlight lessons learnt and how this experience can enrich CEL practices.

    • Community Engaged Learning from the perspective of Computer Science

    Speakers – Beverley Cook, Principal Lecturer, Computer Science and Hannah Charlton, Community Engagement & Volunteering Coordinator

    “The Computer Science department at NTU run a Professional Project Management module giving an opportunity for students to develop their skills in project management while also utilising their technical IT skills. The majority of the students choose to take part in Community Engaged Learning projects developed with local not for profit organisations.” This presentation gave an overview of how this works, its impact and some of the learning that has taken place.

    The webinar proved useful to share examples and learning from various disciplines and to recognise and celebrate the many benefits of community engaged learning for both students and participating organisations.

    Hannah Cowell and Hannah Tweddell, Engaged Learning Advisors at UoB are on the committee of the UK SL/CEL Network. To discuss options for embedding community engaged learning into your own teaching and for tailored support, please get in touch:

    Hannah Tweddell​

    • Faculty of Health Sciences​
    • Faculty of Science​
    • Faculty of Social Sciences and Law​  ​

    Hannah Cowell​

    • Faculty of Arts​
    • Faculty of Engineering​
    • Faculty of Life Sciences​

    You can join the UK SL/CEL network JISCMail here.

    You can join UoB’s Engaged Learning Community by filling in this form.

    Upcoming Community Engaged Learning events:

    • UK SL/CEL Challenge sharing session
      Wednesday 26th April – 10:00-11:30am
      Have you got a challenge you’re facing in your SL/CEL and you would appreciate some input from fellow critical friends? Do you have a more theoretical/pedagogical/philosophical question you’d like to raise to gain a different perspective? We will be looking for several challenges to be submitted in advance so that we can structure the session for the network to come together to discuss issues that will probably be pertinent for many of us. To share a challenge for the next SL/CEL session, please email Hannah Tweddell.
    • Centre for Innovation and Enterprise – Exploring and overcoming challenges in community engaged learning
      Wednesday 14th June 12:30-2:30pm Save the date – more info to follow.

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