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1,000 students participate annually in 140 community-based learning projects

Community-Based Learning

Community-based learning (CBL) is an opportunity for students to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world experiences while serving their communities. Students earn CBL credits in designated courses. This means that students can earn CBL credit as part of the overall college learning experience.

Professors and community partners work together to develop projects that allow students to enhance their classroom knowledge, develop leadership skills, network with community leaders, and meet identified community needs.

CBL credits can be applied toward the Community Engagement Certificate, in addition to regular earned course credits. The CE certificate is a 13-credit/five-course certificate that promotes student understanding of community needs, facilitates networking opportunities, and looks great on a resume whether applying for future employment or graduate school.

CBL projects can become part of a final professional portfolio.

Amy Garrigan
(262) 595-2312

CBL for Students

What is Community-Based Learning (CBL)?

How many times have you spent hours on a paper or project, only for it to be seen and graded by the instructor, and then filed away or thrown out?

With community-based learning, you do real projects that make a difference in the community. For example: instead of creating a brochure for an invented company, you produce a brochure for a local nonprofit organization that is used long after your grade is recorded. During this process, you:

  • Learn how to work with a client
  • Learn more about the community in which you live
  • Contribute a valuable service to the community
  • Add to your resume or portfolio
  • Make contacts that will be valuable to your career
List of CBL Courses for Fall 2018
List of CBL Courses for Spring 2018

Benefits of Community-Based Learning for Students:

  • Provides an opportunity to apply classroom learning to real life settings
    • Enhances your understanding of subject matter
    • Reinforces lectures and readings
    • Connects students to each other
    • Helps with problem solving
  • Promotes personal growth
    • Enhances your self esteem
    • Breaks down ethnocentrism
    • Develops leadership skills
    • Broadens your world view
    • Promotes further community involvement
  • Enhances career development
    • Helps solidify ideas of future career plans
    • Builds resumes
    • Develops networks
    • Connects students with future job opportunities
Exploring Future Careers with Community Based Learning 101
2014 Community-Based Learning 101 Student Showcase

Opportunities for students to becoming involved with Civic Engagement:


  • Community-Based Learning Courses -Take a course that is designated as providing CBL credit
  • Community Engagement Certificate - Take multiple courses designated as providing CBL credit that can count towards a Certificate in Community-Based Learning



CBL for Faculty

Community-Based Learning, or Academic-Service Learning, is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.

Support is available through Continuing Education and Community Engagement to:

  • Find a community partner whose needs match the learning objective of your course
  • Arrange for a community partner to come to class or meet with faculty and/or students
  • Conduct training/orientation for students
  • Provide templates of contracts, time sheets, etc.
  • Assist with conflict resolution

If you are interested in learning more about Community-Based Learning or integrating it into your courses, fill out the Faculty Interest Form and return it to the Community Engagement office at cblinfo@uwp.edu.

Faculty Resources

The Community Engagement Office can assist you by:

  • Identifying potential community partners
  • Assisting with logistics for CBL courses
  • Providing resources on best practices of CBL
  • Arranging for community guest speakers for your course
  • Connecting you with other faculty on campus who are experienced in CBL

Sample syllabi


  • Partner agreement form template
  • Timesheet
  • Behavior contract
  • Field trip form
Liability info

Online resources

Local community information


Guidelines for Student Reflection:

Reflection is a key component of community-based learning that guides students to examine critical issues related to their civic engagement. Reflection asks the following questions:

  • What?
    • What did I do and observe?
    • What issue am I addressing?
  • So what?
    • What impact is my experience having on me?
    • What did I do that was effective and why?
    • What was not effective and how might I improve on this?
    • What have I learned about myself?
  • Now what?
    • What commitment am I making to my community as a result of this project?
    • What other projects might I seek out that offer civic engagement?
CBL for Community

Community-based learning projects match faculty and students to the needs of the nonprofit, government, and business community.

  • Fill a need in your organization
  • Connect with experts at the university
  • Expose students to your mission
  • Recruit future long-term volunteers

Sample projects include research, marketing plans, strategic plans, graphic design, web page design, database design, security audits, GIS mapping, communication plans, personnel training, conflict resolution, applied health sciences, and more.

Organizations interested in working with a Community-Based Learning project should contact. Amy Garrigan garrigan@uwp.edu or (262) 595-2312 at the Community Engagement office.


Learning By Doing

Dr. Penny Lyter and her students in HESM 321, Women's Health Issues, bring donated exercise equipment to the women at Bethany Apartments and the Women's Resource Center in Racine.

HESM with sport equipment        WRC around tree with PLyter and students

The students, Simi Bharwani, Myah Pazdera, Anni Prideaux and Rebecca DeMatthew, spent their semester designing and delivering workshops on Women's Health as well as exercise classes to the clients of the two organizations. In addition, they organized a drive for donations of gently used exercise equipment for the women to be able to continue to exercise. The UW-Parkside Women's Center also made a generous donation to purchase new equipment to supplement the donations. 

CBL 101 students take class out into Petrifying Springs to learn more about Eco-Justice

CBL 101 Petrifying Springs                       Petrifying Springs for CBL 101

CBL 101 (Introduction to Community Based Learning) students went into Pets Springs a few weeks ago for class. They were there not only to enjoy the fall colors, but to do an activity that illustrates the tangible effects of climate change. Students listened to a presentation by naturalist Valerie Mann about the effect of warmer temperatures on the area's maple tree population.Students went out into the forest and divided trees into three categories based on whether or not they were flourishing in their current environment. CBL 101 students were able to see that some maple tree were not flourishing in a warmer environment, and would eventually begin moving north where the weather is cooler. This migration would have a great effect on maple tapping and syrup production in the area.

The students really enjoyed the opportunity to work outside of the classroom, and were impressed to see actual, physical consequences of climate change around them.


CBL Projects

Community-based learning projects match faculty and students to the needs of the nonprofit, government and business community. Representatives of interested organizations can contact staff at the Continuing Education and Community Engagement to begin the matching process for future Community-Based Learning projects.

At UW-Parkside each year approximately

  • 140 class projects are matched to community organizations
  • 1000 students in 25 different majors participate
  • Projects include research, marketing plans, strategic plans, graphic design, web page design, database design, security audits, GIS mapping, communication plans, personnel training, conflict resolution, and more.

Organizations interested in working with a Community-Based Learning project, fill out the Request for Assistance form and return to Amy Garrigan(262) 595-2312 at the Continuing Education and Community Engagement.

The University of Wisconsin-Parkside is committed to providing access, equal opportunity, and reasonable accommodation in its services, program activities, education, and employment for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodations, contact the Continuing Education and Community Engagement at least eight weeks in advance at: 262-595-3340 (V), 262-595-2513 (FAX), or e-mail cblinfo@uwp.edu.

Learning By Doing

 Garden of Eatin         Gardin of Eatin 2


Big Things can come from Small CBL Projects

Students at UW-Parkside have the opportunity to take classes that offer a wide variety of Community Based Learning (CBL) projects, in many disciplines including Business, History, Applied Health Science, Communications and Sociology. One of the most popular CBL classes is Health Exercise and Sport Management (HESM) 280. It is a lower level class in which students volunteer for about 3 hours at a nonprofit organization in Racine or Kenosha County that addresses related to food security and nutrition. The project provides students a chance to see how many people in these areas do not have access or funds to affordable fresh food and how the community comes together to solve this problem.

One student, however, saw an opportunity for something a little more intensive. Andy Berg, at the time a Business student, thought it was wonderful that his fellow students were signing up so enthusiastically to help out the community. As a veteran and father of three, he knew he could do more for the community and wanted to be a strong, positive role model for his children. So Andy and his wife Mercy concocted a plan to create their own urban garden in Kenosha. He contacted local politicians in order to receive written support for the garden. In addition, Andy contacted WE Energies to receive permission to use property adjacent to his house as a garden site. Once he received this approval, he solicited garden tools, seeds and monetary donations from local businesses.  Andy incorporated all he learned creating the garden into his class work in HESM 280 and vice versa.

In the three years since the garden was christened the Garden of Eatin', Andy, Mercy, their children and a small group of volunteers have expanded to a second garden. They continue to grow fresh fruits and produce, donating all of the proceeds to local food banks, pantries and homeless shelters-over 3,500 pounds of food to date! The garden's achievements have been highlighted in local media, and has attracted much support from the community.

Andrew graduated from UW-Parkside in Spring 2016, but he is still very active on campus as an alumni and a newly elected Kenosha County Supervisor. If you are interested in volunteering with the Garden of Eatin' or in starting your own local garden, contact Amanda DesLauriers at deslauri@uwp.edu.

Garden of Eatin 3


Theater at Any Age, Any Where


Racine Montessori CBL Project 



Dr. Lisa Kornetsky, Associate Professor in the Theater Department at UW-Parkside, believes that it is important to demonstrate to her students the many different ways the theatrical arts engage with the community. We engage with theater in many ways beyond attending a play in a traditional performance space. So, Dr. Kornetsky has begun to incorporate a community-based learning course into her Sophomore Seminar. In doing so, her students develop a deeper understanding of how theater shapes community, in addition to exposing them to potential career avenues once they graduate from UW-Parkside.

This fall semester, Dr. Kornetsky partnered with Rita Lewis, principal of Racine Montessori School, in a project that would introduce different aspects of the theater and the arts to students. Seventeen students in the Theater Sophomore Seminar participated in the CBL project, visiting Racine Montessori classrooms once a week. The Parkside students broke up into groups based on their expertise: performance, stage design or costumes. Each group was then paired off with a group of elementary students to participate in a different activity.

The group working on stage design created templates of scenery to be used for the school's spring production of Alice in Wonderland. The costume group played a game of "Guess who". With help from the Parkside students, Racine Montessori students would take turns (picking from a pile of costume pieces and props) dressing up as a famous character or person and the rest of the group would take turns guessing who they were. Finally, the performance group would do a different series of acting exercises, such as a mimicking game.

Both the Racine Montessori and the UW-Parkside students enjoyed their experiences with the CBL project. Parkside students appreciated the opportunity to get outside the classroom, and use the skills and talents they had acquired in a new setting. The Racine Montessori students (and teachers) appreciated the excitement these activities brought to their day. It also provided an opportunity for these young students to begin to think about college, perhaps attending UW-Parkside one day.

Community Engagement Certificate

This five course certificate centers on courses on campus that have real world applications that complement your learning objectives. If you want to graduate with experience related to your field while contributing to the community, this certificate is for you.


  • Deepen your understanding of course concepts
  • Connect course concepts to your experiences for deeper learning
  • Achieve an understanding of community needs
  • Contribute a valuable service to your community
  • Add to your resume or portfolio
  • Cultivate your own interests while working with community partners
  • Make valuable connections for future employment

How can I get this certificate?

It's Simple!

Sign up to receive the Certificate on a Declaration form and contact Community Engagement for advising (262) 595-3340 or cblinfo@uwp.edu. Certification requires that you:

  • Take CBL 101: Introduction to Community Engagement (3 credits)
  • Take additional three courses that have a designated number of CBL credits associated with them. You need thirteen CBL credits to receive the certificate.
  • Take CBL 495 Community Engagement Capstone course that incorporates Community-Based Learning (1 credit)

900 Wood Road · P.O. Box 2000 · Kenosha, WI 53141-2000 P 262-595-2345

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