We are an office at NKU that looks to connect our faculty and students to the community, and especially with Northern Kentucky’s nonprofits, civic agencies, local government, and schools.
Our Center is sort of the “match.com” between potential community partners and classes looking for real-world experience through service learning or other projects.
Have an idea? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public engagement. Civic engagement. Community engagement. All three terms are used, often interchangeable – but with some common ground.
“Engagement” for our center means asking how we can extend the boundaries of the university beyond the campus boundaries for the mutual benefit of our students and our community.
Learning still occurs in our classroom, but deeper learning occurs when the community is the classroom when students learn by doing.
While the terms are used sometimes as if they were synonyms, we see a distinction, especially between civic engagement and community engagement.
Civic engagement best describes our work to encourage students to register and vote and to be well informed on public affairs. Community engagement best describes service learning and other class-based work with community partners.
The center is on part of the “academic side” of the university, and the center’s team reports to the Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Research and Outreach (GERO), which in turn reports to the Provost, who is the chief academic officer for the university.
Because our center is situated on the university’s academic side, our primary work involves classroom support – and especially around promoting and supporting service learning. We provide direct support to about 35 service-learning classes each academic year.
However, our work also involves co-curricular engagement, often in partnership with other NKU offices and divisions.
Our voter education initiatives are perhaps the leading example of such work. About nine of ten NKU students are registered to vote, and a high percentage vote on Election Day.
But even that effort has a classroom connection. We visit all UNV 101 classes (these are classes for freshman and provide an introduction to campus resources and academic life) and, on our visits, invite students to register to vote and show them how.
Most of our programming that is not strictly academic still finds classroom connections. Our annual visit by an Associated Press national journalist is showcased in our Six@Six Lecture Series, held as a public event. But the journalists also visit our classrooms while they are here to talk directly with students in a less public setting.
Yes. We are known nationally for our Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project, which uses a “learn by giving” approach to teaching. We have published a widely used faculty handbook that allows a professor anywhere in the world to see how a class is structured and taught. Each year, more colleges and universities launch student philanthropy classes based on the NKU model.
In addition, more than two dozen scholarly articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals by NKU scholars about the benefits to student learning that experiential philanthropy provides.
NKU also was one of the first universities in America to achieve the prestigious Carnegie classification for community engagement, first given in 2006 and renewed in 2015.
The classification is given by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, which was chartered by Congress in 1906 to advance transformative ways to teach. The community engagement classification is awarded to colleges and universities that demonstrate an institutional commitment to using community engagement to teach.