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About the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning

The WCU Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning strengthens the relationship between the campus and the wider community. We help students, faculty, and staff find opportunities to volunteer and to engage in service learning projects. We also connect community groups with university members who can help them.

As an administrative support unit in the Academic Affairs Division, The Center is supported in its mission by the Academic Community Engagement Advisory Board, which recommends policies and procedures and assists in creating quality relationships among campus and community stakeholders.

Meet Our Staff

Advisory Board

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The Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning's mission focuses on the development, promotion, and measurement of programs and initiatives that engage all partners in the mutually beneficial process of community development, with the intention of fostering a sustainable campus culture and the personal habit of community engagement in our students.

Here's how we do it:

  • We collaboratively engage students, faculty, staff, and community partners in curricular and co-curricular approaches to learning designed to enhance understanding of course content and self, intentionally address community issues, develop career-related skills, and promote responsible citizenship
  • We develop and guide faculty on how to engage students with the community in order to address relevant issues affecting our region
  • We primarily serve the needs of our region by identifying the issues most relevant to our region's well-being and WCU's integrated curricular focus areas
  • We support, recognize, and reward exemplary community engagement efforts demonstrated by our students, faculty, and staff
  • We monitor and measure the impact of our programs and initiatives

What guides and inspires us, and what we strive for

  • A clear understanding of what we do
  • Excellence and respectful approaches in all we do
  • Collaboration with and respect for our region and partners
  • Creative solutions to complex problems
  • Informed and timely responses
  • Measurement of success and knowing what it looks like

Who we want to be
By establishing a reputation that is founded on mutual respect, responsiveness, intentionality, and a 'starting from yes attitude', in all matters of community engagement and development, the CCESL will be a primary contact for WCU and the region and by so doing foster a campus culture and personal habit of engagement in those we serve.

Simplified Vision: To be a national model for community engagement that embraces its responsibilities as a center serving the needs of a regionally engaged university.

An imperative for WCU's CCESL
It is imperative that the CCESL clarifies the difference between pedagogical approaches associated with community engagement and co-curricular ones. While these two concepts are not mutually exclusive it is important that our constituents understand what it is we do and recognize their role in it.

Affiliations and Recognitions


Andrew Goodman Foundation


Bringing Theory in to Practice


Campus Compact - Campus in Action


NC Campus Compact


Campus Democracy Challenge


Campus Election Engagement Project


Carnegie Foundation


Presidential Honor Roll


SoCon Votes


The Washington Center




voter friendly



Frequently Asked Questions

Service learning combines community service, academic instruction, and structured reflection. Students who do service learning can develop a better understanding of course content, meet genuine community needs, develop career-related skills, and become responsible citizens.

Service learning is always connected to academic coursework, while community service is not. For example, if a group of friends do a river cleanup, it would be classified as community service. If an environmental science class studied water pollution, then did a river cleanup as part of their coursework, it would be service learning.

You can find a list of our community partners here. Click on the name of any group for more information, including contact information, hours of operation, and possible volunteer activities. We work with a wide variety of organizations across Western North Carolina. These groups focus on many topics, such as children, youth, & education; the elderly; poverty-related issues; the environment; animals; arts & culture; and medical care. If you need help connecting with a group or setting up a volunteer project, please contact us.

You can learn about upcoming service projects by looking at our calendar or our Facebook page, visiting us in Belk 273, or subscribing to our weekly email updates. If you would like to receive email updates, please email us at

If you would like to do community service, but you don't have a vehicle, you have several options. Students can carpool with their friends, take advantage of service sites close to campus, participate in service opportunities where transportation is provided, or use Jackson County Transit. Service sites on or within 1 mile of campus include the Ramsey Center, the Mountain Heritage Center, NCCAT, CuRvE, the Cullowhee Community Garden, Cullowhee Valley School, and Full Spectrum Farms. The CCESL organizes Days of Service several times a year, and provides transportation for volunteers who need it. With 24-hour notice, Jackson County Transit will transport students to local locations for $3 each way.
We also have two vans that are available for use by faculty, staff, and students who are employed by the university. Contact us for more information about reserving the van.

You can find forms here. Before you begin volunteering, you should complete a "Conduct & Waiver of Liability" form, which is attached to the "Application for Service Learning (for Course-Related Service)". You can also print out a time sheet to track the service hours that you have completed.

First, you will need to visit the Department of Student Community Ethics in Brown Hall. They will tell you how many hours you must complete, and the deadline to complete your hours. If you need help finding a site where you can complete your hours, visit us in Belk 273 and we can offer suggestions.

The CCESL has resources for planning, implementing, monitoring, and assessing/evaluating service-learning projects. Our staff is happy to consult with faculty members, and our faculty fellows offer support for faculty in several colleges. We maintain a library of syllabi, publications, and other resources in our office. You can also find syllabi for a variety of disciplines through the websites of National Campus Compact, North Carolina Campus Compact, and Learn and Serve America's National Service-Learning Clearinghouse.

Yes. The Faculty Senate unanimously approved the "SLC" ("Service-Learning Component") designation in 2007. If a course meets certain criteria, "SLC" will be added to the course's catalog description and to students' transcripts. However, please note that a course does not need to have the "SLC" label to be considered a service-learning course.

The CCESL offers periodic professional development sessions that focus on various topics in service learning and community engagement. Contact the Center for more information, or if you are interested in a particular topic. In addition, Campus Compact – a national coalition of college and university leaders dedicated to promoting community service, civic engagement, and service learning in higher education – provides various professional development opportunities for faculty and administrators throughout the year. North Carolina Campus Compact organizes an annual service-learning conference called PACE (Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement) primarily for faculty involved in service learning and civic engagement. The Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement is held in March and the International Research Conference on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement is held in March and the International Research Conference on Service-Learning and Community Engagement in October.
The CCESL also facilitates the Faculty Institute on Community Engagement (FICE) annually. This program engages ~10 faculty from across campus who are interested in learning more about community engaged pedagogy, scholarship/research, and partnership development practices.

The CCESL maintains a list of journals and other publications that focus on engaged scholarship. The premier service-learning journals are the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and EngagementJournal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, and the International Journal of Research on Service-Learning & Community Engagement.

Yes. WCU's tenure, promotion, and retention guidelines reward the range of scholarly activities proposed by Ernest Boyer (1990). Effective service-learning pedagogy can be demonstrated through the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) and faculty engagement with the community through the scholarship of application.

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