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CEL Faculty at the U

Community Engaged Learning (CEL)


Community Engaged Learning (CEL) is an educational approach that involves experiential learning and has several key components: 

  • Addresses a community-identified need;
  • Is mutually beneficial for community and students; 
  • Intentionally integrates community-engaged work and academic learning objectives; 
  • Prepares students for engagement, including critical analysis of the structures leading to the community need and best practices for ethical engagement; 
  • And requires critical reflection on the community engagement. 


Click here for CEL Definition and Learning Outcomes Rubric

CEL Learning Outcomes

Community Engaged Learning at the University of Utah strives to help students become civic-minded graduates. We believe taking CEL courses will help students develop their civic competencies: civic societal awareness, civic personal awareness, civic habits, civic skills, and civic values. Each civic competency has three criteria with outcome scales for evaluation.

  • Civic Societal Awareness: Critical understanding of social issues and how they are addressed in society. 
    • Knowledge of a social issue 
    • Knowledge of agencies/groups/organizations that address social issues 
    • Awareness of systems and power structures when trying to address a social issue 
  • Civic Personal Awareness: Dynamic awareness of an individual's sense of place in society. 
    • Reflection on values, attitudes, and/or beliefs 
    • Recognition of own positionality in systems and power
    • Response to systems and power structures  
  • Civic Habits: Development of regular behaviors and practices aiming at creating positive social change.
    • Depth of Community Engagement 
    • Breadth of Community Engagement 
    • Role in addressing social issues 
  • Civic Skills: Development of necessary skills to ethically engage with communities. 
    • Empathy 
    • Openness 
    • Collaboration 
  • Civic Values: Expressed desires and beliefs related to social responsibility and civic commitment. 
    • Valuing community-based knowledge 
    • Valuing the public purpose of student's academic discipline 
    • Sources of responsibility or commitment to community engagement 

Course Designation

University of Utah faculty may apply to have their courses designated as community-engaged learning (CEL) in the schedule of classes. Identifying courses in this way is beneficial for you and your students. Among other things, the CEL designation:

  • Helps students see that they are enrolling in a CEL course when they register.
  • Introduces students to the idea of community-engaged learning before they attend class on the first day.
  • Brings greater visibility to the practice of community-engaged learning at the University of Utah.
  • Provides data to track these courses and identify the faculty and students who engage in this meaningful practice.
  • Enables the Bennion Center to document the benefits of this pedagogy to students, the community, and faculty, and report those benefits to administrators, community partners, donors, and others.

CEL Designation Review Process

The Community Engaged Learning (CEL) Curriculum Committee oversees the review process for both new CEL designations and 5-year reviews of CEL designated courses. Applications are reviewed according to criteria described in the rubric below.  In addition to meaningful community-based learning, the CEL Committee is looking for robust CEL-related learning outcomes, evidence of reciprocal dialogue among faculty and potential community partners, and consistent reflection opportunities to contemplate broader societal issues related to the discipline.

Like Gen Ed Designations, CEL Designations are reviewed every 5 years. This process is necessary to ensure our University of Utah CEL database is accurate and that CEL best practices are utilized campus-wide. It also allows for a better understanding of the variety of community partners that UofU faculty are working with, and for the collection of student artifacts for CEL Learning Outcomes assessment. The CEL Curriculum Committee will share detailed instructions via email to the current instructors and academic leaders of CEL classes that need to undergo a 5-year review.


Applications and syllabi are reviewed by the Community Engaged Learning Curriculum Committee. You can view a PDF of the application questions here.

Materials must be submitted online by the following dates for consideration: March 1st for Fall classes, October 1st for Spring classes, and February 1st for Summer classes.


Course Funding

CEL-designated classes automatically earn funding to recognize their value and also the extra effort it may take to provide deeply engaged learning opportunities. Funds are transferred to programs and departments after University Analytics and Institutional Reporting (UAIR) completes its calculations. The additional funding must be reinvested in your community-engaged learning program. Some of the legitimate uses include:

  • Purchasing materials or equipment for student CEL projects and/or for a community partner to allow for engagement
  • Paying an honorarium to a community partner for working with a CEL class or group of students
  • Paying the parking for a community partner who comes to campus to talk with a CEL class
  • Paying background checks for students (it is now a requirement if students in CEL classes are working with children under the age of 18)
  • Paying for a semester-end party/open house, which could entail CEL presentations by students to community partners
  • Reimbursing a faculty member who teaches CEL courses for associated expenses (e.g., mileage to community partner site; meal with a community partner; CEL classroom supplies; etc.)

Community Engaged Learning and Scholarship tracks the uses and effectiveness of this CEL SCH funding and reports outcomes to the Office of the President. Please use the below linked form to report how you or your academic unit(s) utilized the CEL SCH awards to support your CEL efforts. It is important to understand the variety of ways these awards support our campus-wide community engaged efforts.

Click here for CEL SCH Funding Form

Special Considerations for CEL Courses

The University of Utah has adopted a Safety of Minors Policy (1-015) to help ensure that all minors who participate in University programs have a safe and meaningful educational experience. This policy also applies to all community-engaged learning courses that have interactions with children under the age of 18. Read the details about the required steps

If your students will be working in the field with community partners, per U of U Regulation, they must complete a Liability/Field Trip Waiver Form.

CEL Curriculum Committee

In addition to the above described review processes, the CEL Curriculum Committee advises the Community Engaged Learning and Scholarship Team on strategic matters related to CEL instruction campus-wide. If you are interested in serving on the CEL Committee, please contact Megan Medina.

Questions? Contact Megan Medina, Associate Director of Community Engaged Learning and Scholarship

Community Engaged Learning Assistant

Having a Community Engaged Learning Assistant (CELA) can help to facilitate a consistent community-engaged learning experience for students enrolled in the course and community partners. If awarded, your CELA can support your teaching in these ways:

  • Articulating the purpose of community-engaged learning to students and community partners.
  • Helping prepare students and community partners to work with each other.
  • Assisting faculty with identification, coordination, and communication with community partners throughout the semester.
  • Providing ongoing communication, technical assistance, and problem-solving for both partners and students.
  • Developing and/or assisting in developing the plan for reflection and assisting with reflection activities.
  • Coordinating community partner evaluations.

Students who serve as CELA's receive a financial award based on class enrollment and availability of funds. For qualifying classes with <25 students, a $900 award for a 0.75 CELA. For qualifying classes of 25-74 students, one full-time CELA position is funded at $1250. For classes larger than 75 students, multiple CELA positions can be funded on an as-needed basis as funds are available. 

Application Due Dates

Applications are due by April 15th for a Fall semester class, November 15th for a Spring semester class, and March 15th for Summer semester (as funding allows). Successful applicants will be notified within two weeks of application deadlines. Awards are contingent upon the availability of funds, and will be distributed during the first two weeks of the semester awarded.

Please review the eligibility criteria, below, then use the online form to submit your application for a CELA award.

Contact Megan Medina if you have questions.

Click here for CELA Application


For Faculty: 1) instructors interested in developing a community-engaged learning course by “test teaching” it, and 2) instructors who teach a CEL-designated class may apply for a CELA award. 

For Students: Instructors may select an undergraduate or graduate student for their CELA. Prior community-engaged learning coursework is highly preferred, but not mandatory. The Bennion Center also can help you identify a student to serve as your CELA. In this case, preference will be given to students in the Bennion Center Scholars Program, which helps undergraduates apply their academic knowledge to community issues.

Please note: FERPA regulations require that undergraduate students who grade student work must complete FERPA training prior to grading. See the below link for more information and access to the online training: 

Program Support for Community Engaged Learning Assistants

Students hired as CELAs are invited to join a canvas training course and asked to submit two reflections during the semester. CELAs and course instructors can contact the Community Engaged Learning and Scholarship staff to think through ideas or troubleshoot.

Example CEL Course Learning Outcomes

SCH CEL Funding

New CEL Courses

Reflection Activities

Example Syllabi

Liability Waiver

  • If your students will be working in the field with community partners, per U of U Regulation, they must complete a Liability/Field Trip Waiver Form.

Safety of Minors Background Checks & Policy Compliance

If, as part of your CEL course, some or all of your students will be working with minors, you will need to comply with Safety of Minors policy. There are three components:

  1. Register your class with Youth Protection and Program Support
  2. Have students complete an “Authorized Adult” online training module
  3. Have students complete a background check before any interactions with minors

All relevant details and links can be found on the Policy Information Brochure linked below. You can also share the Student CBC Procedure Instructions, linked below, with your students.

If you have questions, please reach out to

CEL Course Policy Information Brochure

CEL Academic Journals

  • Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning (University of Michigan)
    • The Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning is an open access, peer-reviewed journal with authors and readers around the world. It publishes research, theory, and pedagogy pertinent to service-learning and civic and community engagement.
  • Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship (University of Alabama)
    • The Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship (JCES) is a peer-reviewed international journal through which faculty, staff, students, and community partners disseminate scholarly works. JCES integrates teaching, research, and community engagement in all disciplines, addressing critical problems identified through a community-participatory process.
  • International Journal of Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement (IRJSLCE)
    • The IJRSLCE is a peer-reviewed online journal dedicated to the publication of high quality research focused on service-learning, campus-community engagement, and the promotion of active and effective citizenship through education. 
  • Journal of Community Engagement and Higher Education (Indiana State University)
    • The Journal of Community Engagement and Higher Education is an on-line, refereed journal concerned with exploring community engagement and community-based learning perspective, research, and practice. It publishes accounts of a range of research focusing on practical and theoretical insights and understanding, in higher education and across the disciplines and professions. There is a focus on case studies emphasizing community engagement and engaged learning practices, methodology, and pedagogy. The journal aims to establish and maintain a review of the literature of research and practice. It also provides a forum for dialogue on the methodological and epistemological issues, enabling different approaches to be subjected to critical reflection and analysis.
  • Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement (University of Georgia)
    • The mission of the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement is to serve as the premier peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal to advance theory and practice related to all forms of outreach and engagement between higher education institutions and communities.

National & Regional Organizations for CEL

The University of Utah is committed to community engaged scholarship and research. Faculty are invited to apply for the following awards recognizing research, excellence in the classroom, and passion for strengthening communities through learning, scholarship and advocacy.

Public Service Professorship

This significant award is designed to help a faculty member strengthen community-engaged learning experiences and opportunities tied to civic engagement, and also foster stronger partnerships with the local community.

Hallie Jay Pope2023: Hallie Jay Pope, Professor—S. J. Quinney College of Law

Professor Pope came to the University of Utah to develop the Creative Advocacy Lab (CAL), an experiential course dedicated to promoting access to justice and democratizing legal information. According to Pope, “CAL explores modes of legal advocacy beyond traditional client representation, re-envisioning lawyers as community educators, problem-solvers, and storytellers. In collaboration with community partners, students use creative tools—like design thinking, narrative, plain language writing, and visual communication—to make legal information accessible to those who need it.” She will utilize the $7,500 award in partnership with CAL students, People’s Legal Aid Utah, and the tenants they work alongside to design informational resources about housing law and renters’ rights. 


Distinguished Faculty Service Award

Dr. David and Susan Jabusch generously donate $1,000 to the non-profit community organization of the award winner's choice.

Amos N. Guiora2023: Amos N. Guiora, Professor—S. J. Quinney College of Law  

Epitomizing community-engaged scholarship, Professor Guiora’s path-breaking research and writing on Bystanders and Enablers in sexual assaults has had both direct and indirect impacts on survivors worldwide. Beyond his many presentations and discussions with survivors, he advocates for systemic change. He worked with Utah legislators Rep. Brian King and Sen. Kurt Bramble to introduce a bill that criminalized bystanders of sexual assault; the bill was signed by Governor Cox in March 2021. According to one letter of support from a survivor of sexual assault, “Professor Guiora's genuine care and concern aided in realizing my worth, therefore restoring my light. There are very few people in this world that will take the time to listen. Professor Guiora not only listened, he took initiative to create change.”

Shannon Jones

2023: Shannon Jones, Professor—Department of Nutrition and Integrated Physiology, College of Health

Professor Jones turns her passion for food access and justice into action. According to her nominator, “Shannon has taken our programs beyond nutrition education visits, to efforts to change the food environment at shelters, develop gardening programs, and alter state policies on health and nutrition for individuals experiencing homelessness.” All of Professor Jones’s letters of support mentioned her deep commitment to community work. Examples include staying late to finish planting gardens and hand delivering fresh produce via bike on nights and weekends. Of particular note is how she makes space for everyone to engage in the work. According to her College of Health colleague, Professor Jeffrey Rose, “Shannon leverages her unique relational abilities to inspire, educate, and connect with people on an extremely authentic level. She deeply cares about the people in her life, and this compassion and connection is inextricable from her capacity to mentor community members, students, and faculty about the myriad ways that community engagement and service affects our lives.”

LEARN MORE about the Distinguished Faculty Service Award

CEL Faculty Highlights

Kilo Zamora2021: Kilo Zamora—Engaged Faculty Fellow

The Bennion Center for Community Engagement is pleased to announce the appointment of Kilo Zamora as this year’s Engaged Faculty Fellow. Kilo joins Amy Sibul, Associate Director of Curriculum & Scholarship at the Bennion Center, in the promotion and development of community engaged learning capacities across campus.

Kilo will co-lead this year’s CEL Faculty Learning Community discussions, and this year’s guiding theme is “Disrupting the Volunteer Conundrum for NPO’s”. Non-profit Organizations are often ideal community partners for CEL classes, from the perspective of faculty and students. How can CEL classes be the ideal partners for NPO’s? How can we build reciprocal CEL relationships with NPO’s that often operate in a paradigm of “understaffed but volunteer-abundant”?

CEL FLC discussions are held every 3rd Wednesday of the month from 1:30-2:30pm via zoom: remaining dates of Jan 19, Feb 16, Mar 16, Apr 20. If interested in joining in, please RSVP here.

Kilo is skilled in creating learning environments for groups to develop themselves and transform their communities. Kilo applies his talents as a community engagement consultant and instructor in the Shcool of Cultural & Transformation, University of Utah. He teaches multiple Community Engaged Learning (CEL) classes at the UofU, and is currently undertaking an innovative process to build curriculum for a new “Gender & Nature” course by incorporating community input and engagement from the “ground up” as he builds his syllabus.

Dr. Robert Kraemer: Bringing Learning Objectives to Life

V. Kim Martinez: Art is a Right, Not a Luxury

Dr. Julie Metos: Distinguished Faculty Service Professor, 2018

Erin Carraher: Public Service Professor 2018-19

Dr. Nancy Nickman: College of Pharmacy

Annual Dates of Deadlines

  • CEL Applications:
    • Fall semester - March 1st
    • Spring semester - October 1st
    • Summer semester - February 1st
  • CELA Applications:
    • Fall semester - April 15th
    • Spring semester - November 15th
    • Summer semester - March 15th
  • Faculty Award Nominations/Applications:
    • January 31st

CEL Faculty Workshops, Town Halls, & Next Practices Retreat

Introduction to CEL Faculty Workshop: For Faculty interested in learning more about Community Engaged Learning (CEL) pedagogy, and the CEL designation process. This is the ideal opportunity for new and experienced faculty alike to explore methods for teaching through community engagement and to learn about the benefits of a CEL designation for your class.

Next Practices CEL Faculty Workshop: This is an anual faculty "think tank" where we tackle a compelling theme that pushes the field of Community Engaged Scholarship forward.

If you’re interested in future CEL faculty workshops and events, please email

CEL Faculty Lunch & Learns

  • TBD

CEL Faculty Learning Community Discussions

  • Discussion sessions are held in collaboration with the Martha Bradley Evans Center for Teaching Excellence. Check out the events webpage for upcoming workshops.
  • If you have an idea for a CEL FLC discussion theme for the coming year, please share with

National & Regional CEL Conferences

Community Engaged Learning and Scholarship proudly supports and encourages quality community-based research (CBR). We want community members and academic researchers to work together in powerful partnerships to uncover, understand, disrupt obstacles as well as excentuate the assets that will lead to more healthy, inclusive, resilient, and just communities. 

We want to employ CBR to:

  • Translate scientific knowledge into practice
  • Support organizing and movement building
  • Impact policy
  • Guide community and economic development
  • Foster learning and personal transformation
  • Build trust with communities harmed by past research
  • Improve organizations
  • Strengthen communities
  • Enrich our understanding of the world

Our communities struggle with deep-rooted inequities and global challenges that defy simple answers. CBR is a powerful way to address these challenges by harnessing our collective knowledge, data, and resources.

This report, produced by the U's Community Research Collaborative, offers guidance for both community-based and campus-based practioners and anyone who wants to engage in quality collaborative CBR to strengthen their community. 

The U's Community Research Collaborative is composed of researchers, organizers, activists, scholars, educators, and community leaders, who work together to advance quality participatory and action-oriented community-based research. The group and its products are supported by University Neighborhood Partners and the Bennion Center.



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Last Updated: 3/25/24