Quality community-campus partnerships

Forming sustainable partnerships that have meaning and impact

Meaningful partnerships are integral to service learning programs because they connect and reinforce in‐class work and readings with real life experiences. They provide an opportunity for students to think critically about civic responsibility, as well as examine and challenge personal values, beliefs, and opinions. Community partnerships provide a platform for students to ask questions, share ideas and experiences, challenge current solutions to community issues and develop plans to address community needs.

Principles of strong partnerships

One of the goals of forming relationships between the campus and community organizations is to build sustainable relationships that benefit both the University and the community organization. In order to ensure that the relationships are not only sustainable but also mutually beneficial to all parties, there are some basic principles that provide context and guidance through which these partnerships can be formed, maintained, and understood.

  • Partners have agreed upon mission, values, goals, and measurable outcomes for the partnership
  • The relationship between partners is characterized by mutual trust, respect, genuineness, and commitment.
  • The partnership builds upon identified strengths and assets, but also addresses areas that need improvement.
  • The partnership balances the power among partners and enables resources to be shared among partners.
  • There is clear, open, and accessible communication between partners, making it an on-going priority to listen to each need, develop a common language, and validate or clarify the meaning of terms.
  • Roles, norms, and processes for the partnership are established with input and agreement of all partners.
  • There is feedback to, among, and from all partners with the goal of continuously improving the partnership and its outcomes.
  • Partners share credit for the accomplishments within the partnership.
  • Partners understand that partnerships take time to develop and will evolve over time.

Engaging co-educators

Facilitating the Co-Education Experience
As a co-educator in charge of supplementing and enhancing academic course material with civic experiences, it is important that the students perform duties that correspond as closely as possible with the academic knowledge they will gain throughout the semester. The more closely the connection between the service experience and the course material, the more meaningful the experience will be for students. Community partners and faculty will also benefit if the service and academic elements of a service-learning course are connected. In order for this to happen, it is ideal for university faculty and community partners to try and match course material with service experiences, and understanding the community issue area or areas addressed by partners is a great place to begin!

Community partner roles and expectations

Below is a list of expectations the University holds of community partners when they are hosting students in service-learning placements. Incorporated into this list is a description a the community partner's role as a co-educator in the learning process.