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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. 

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.

Designated CBL courses can be applied toward the Community Engagement Certificate. 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.

Amy Garrigan, Community Engagement Specialist
(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 2019

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
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.

The Community Engagement Office can help you:

  • Find a community partner whose needs match the learning objectives 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.
  • Identify resources on best practices of of CBL
  • Connect you with other faculty on campus who are experienced in CBL

If you are interested in learning more about community-based learning or integrating it into your courses, contact the Community Engagement office at cblinfo@uwp.edu.

Faculty Resources

CBL Course Designation Form

This form should be completed by the individual seeking the Community Based Learning (CBL) designation for the course.  Once completed, submit this form to cblinfo@uwp.edu, with the course syllabus and supporting documentation (such as CBL related assignment).


Sample syllabi:


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

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.




CBL Projects

At UW-Parkside each year approximately

  • 50 courses are matched to community organizations
  • 1,300 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 course should contact Amy Garrigan at (262) 595-2312 at the Community Engagement Office

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 13 credit certificate centers on courses 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
  • Achieve an understanding of community needs
  • Contribute a valuable service to your community
  • Add to your resume or portfolio
  • Make valuable connections for future employment

How can I get this certificate?

Use this declaration form and contact Community Engagement for advising (262) 595-2312 or cblinfo@uwp.edu.

You need thirteen CBL credits to receive the certificate: 

  • Take CBL 101: Introduction to Community Engagement (3 credits)
  • Take nine credits of CBL elective courses
  • Take the CBL 495 Community Engagement Capstone course (1 credit)

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

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