Partnering Academics and Community Engagement is a Clayton State University initiative designed to enhance student learning by having academic content applied to service learning opportunities within the local community. The program was launched in 2014 as an aspect of the Quality Enhancement Plan of Clayton State University. PACE courses are designed to enhance learning through the process of connecting academic course content with service opportunities in the community as a concept of academic community engagement. Distinct from voluntary service and internships, in community engaged classes students and their instructors leave the classroom and engage actively with their communities to experience real-life connections between their education and everyday issues in order to make learning come alive. It is based on pedagogical and practical considerations to introduce community engagement into the classroom. As PACE is implemented, you will see community-engaged courses offered across all disciplines and majors. This guide is an invitation to experience you as a collaborator in learning through serving.
- defined as intentional efforts to engage students in planned and purposeful learning related to service experiences within the community.
- classes are specifically designed using community projects as one of the learning exercises in the course
- students and faculty work with a community partner (or partners) to provide some service to that partner and to make meaningful connections between the service experience and learning in the course.
- different than community service where people work with a community partner on a volunteer basis, but not necessarily within the context of a course or other learning exercise.
- Knowing that a problem exists is not a solution, however understanding problems and recognizing opportunities for improvement is a great starting point.
- Students of all ages and backgrounds have skills that can improve society; PACE offers you a chance to practice them.
- Evaluations of academic community engagement programs indicate students who participate:
- Realize greater learning gains
- Have a higher academic and social self concept
- Experience improved tolerance and empathy
- Demonstrate more advanced cognitive and problem solving skills
- Have increased interest in influencing positive social and political change
- Traditional students find new opportunities to connect with and participate in the surrounding political and social environments to discover their unique skills while learning new ones.
- Non-traditional students draw upon and refine existing skills to help others and lead through mentoring.
- International students gain additional insights into the American social experience and the how the workforce is constructed.
- PACE invites you explore how individual lives are part of the whole, how everyday activities connect us by deliberately applying academic knowledge and skills in civic issues to enhance personal civic capacity and community growth.
- Clayton State University has adopted academic community engagement as its focus for an ongoing initiative called Partnering Academics and Community Engagement (or ‘PACE’).
- in certain courses (usually noted as “PACE community-engaged courses” in the online Course Schedule) the instructors have designed a project where students work with a specific group or groups in the community outside our classrooms.
- sometimes students work with other groups on campus and sometimes with groups off campus.
- students work on some project that uses course learning to benefit that partner (or partners) in some meaningful way.
- extends the classroom outside its four walls, and into a more ”real world” context.
- Community engaged courses offer a truly different way to learn.
- Focus is placed upon connecting course content with actual experience.
- The role of instructor and student are more fluid and less rigid.
- Less passive than attending a lecture, learners are active participants.
- Emphasis is placed on learning through reflecting on experience.
- The experience component connects to a wide range of learning styles.
- Each PACE course itself will be different depending on the course objectives and the needs of the community project or partner.
- It is quite possible that you will find PACE courses far more interesting than “regular” classes.
- The primary benefit of community engagement for the student is the practical experience and application of the relevant course material in the field. Through the active participation in the community it gives the opportunity to meet individuals that are different and similar in many aspects such as culture, class, lifestyle, gender, and physical ability (Kankiewicz, n.d.).
- Community engagement gives the chance to find a profession that combines different interests of you and helps in the decision making for the future career paths.
- Provided guaranty to comply with everyone’s own social responsibility, which is an essential component of the dynamic within a community.
- The effort within the PACE project fulfills your social responsibility to enhance the unity, not your own image.
- Personalized educational experience fosters personal growth: leadership skills, intellectual curiosity, ethical morals or critical thinking.
- Students view community engagement as helpful to be more well-rounded and important to deal with the challenge to comply with the PACE project.
- Community partners benefit from knowledge, new vision and skills from university students.
- Overloaded, low-staffed nonprofit organizations need insights on programs and services to enhance solution for short- and long-term.
- Established community of engaged individuals helps to deliver community issues.
- Publicity of community needs encourages less involved community members (Kankiewicz, n.d.).
- Strength of the community feeling in our surrounding Counties
- An important aspect of the educational mission at Clayton State and many colleges is a focus on citizenship with the goal of graduating involved citizens who are well prepared to enter the job market and contribute to society.
- Academic community engagement courses offer a fundamental pathway to develop educated, skilled, and involved citizens.
- Engaged student-citizens become active life long citizen-scholars who working within their own communities, recognize the responsibility of being good global citizens.
- Our campus community also has the responsibility to be a good neighbor to the broader community from which it draws support. There is an important connection, we want the broader community to know we are here and confidently employ Clayton State students and graduates.
- Students have additional opportunities to network beyond the campus.
Some of what’s expected of you is very similar to other courses:
- come to class prepared
- complete work on time and on schedule
- be mindful of your instructor’s expectations
- if there is a group project also be mindful of your team members’ expectations.
- in PACE classes you’ll also be acting as an “ambassador” for Clayton State University when you interact with the community partner (or partners), whether that’s in person, via email, or even more indirectly.
- In ALL PACE courses, the University and community partner expect all students will:
- be mature, responsible, and exhibit a positive attitude.
- be dependable…that means punctuality and regular attendance are important (both in-class and with the community partner)!
- dress appropriately.
- follow the rules and regulations of Clayton State University and the community partner.
Volunteer work or internships in a nonprofit organization or similar institutions are not part of community engagement. •Volunteering is intended to cover the needs of an organization without necessarily taking observations of the organization and theories from the classroom into account to fulfill course-specific objectives.
An internship is supposed to specifically focus on developing a certain skill set and provide experience for a profession over a longer period of time.
The faculty creates an atmosphere for the student to collaborate with the project partners developing a greater feeling of community and togetherness in contrast to have a feeling of working for someone. To fulfill this goal, direct community engagement projects encourage to truly understand individuals who have real human needs (Service Learning and Prejudice Reduction, n.d.).
The community partners function not only as the recipient of the community engagement project but also as active educators in many different aspects. The facilitators and community partners are encouraged to identify projects that respond to the needs pinpointed by the organizations and institutions (Service Learning and Prejudice Reduction, n.d.).
PACE is designed to incorporate community-engaged projects and the faculty will communicate the expectations clearly to the student. If discomfort is experienced, please contact your professor or mentor to elaborate on a solution. For the student’s safety, the community partner agrees to a contract stating the objectives and project outcomes specifically to ensure a beneficial and well-organized PACE project. Prior to going to the site, the student needs to fill out the travel forms. In the appendix you can find the student travel agreement, the volunteer agreement from and the letter of intent to collaborate between the community partner and Clayton State University.