This is the official blog showcasing experiences from American University’s various community based learning and research initiatives, run through the Center for Community Engagement & Service (CCES).

As an institution, AU is committed to advancing social justice and civic responsibility, and we are at the front lines of that effort. At the Center for Community Engagement & Service we lead the AU community into the world to serve. We stand with a university dedicated to improving lives in our global community.

Across the nation, Community-Based Learning and Research (also known as service-learning) is increasingly utilized as a teaching and learning strategy. This technique integrates meaningful service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. Students practice, re-examine, and deepen their classroom learning through direct service or a project with a nonprofit organization. Student and faculty work benefits the community as well as their own intellectual development.


The Community Service Learning Program, better known as CSLP, offers undergraduate students taking a course in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), The School of Public Affairs (SPA), The School of International Service (SIS), or The Kogod School of Business the opportunity to earn an additional academic credit, by linking a community service experience to their course work.

Many of our students like to view this opportunity as adding a community service “lab” component to their class. The program encourages students to become engaged in the local and international community by helping them partner with various non-profit and service based organizations in the area. Throughout the course of the semester, students who elect to register for the program are expected to complete 40 hours of community service. The program culminates with a final project, which is meant to make students think critically about the work that they’ve completed and how it relates to what the have learned in the classroom. This project gives students the opportunity to work more closely with their professors, therefore giving them the opportunity to build connections both on and off campus.

Click here for more information on CSLP.

In addition to CSLP American University also offers Community Based (CB) Courses. These are courses in which the professor has already teamed with (or requires his/her students to find) a community partner or office, and has fully integrated a service based experience into the course requirements. In the situation the entire class is involved in community-based learning, and each student must complete a minimum of 20 hours service. In this sense, the students, instructor, and community all serve as co-educators for one another.

Click here for more information about CB courses.

The Center for Community Engagement and Service also offers a variety of other service opportunities, such as one day service experiences, alternative breaks programs, DC Reads tutoring, and service-based orientations for freshmen (the Freshman Service Experience). For more information on these programs, please click here.