Steans Center > For Faculty > Course Development

Course Development

Community-based Service learning intentionally integrates meaningful community engagement with academic learning and purposeful civic learning

CbSL Venn Diagram

DePaul Academic Service Learning Models

At DePaul, we support a variety of approaches to integrating service learning pedagogy into courses:

Direct Service 

Students engage in service that directly benefits a community organization's clients and programming (e.g., tutoring, providing health screenings)

Project-based Service

Students assist in the community by consulting or creating tangible products (e.g., creating a website, drafting oral interview reports, PR plan, assessing organizational recruitment strategies).

Community-based Research

Students contribute to a research effort defined and driven by a community partner.

Advocacy and Solidarity

Students support an on-going campaign to address a critical social, economic, and/or environmental issue in Chicago or internationally. This involves valuing the dignity of all people and respecting them as individuals in the pursuit of justice, community-building and peace. For example, the Center supports the Inside-Out Program, through which DePaul students study side-by-side with incarcerated students at correctional facilities. 

Build Relationships with Communities

Collaboration with communities lies at the heart of effective service learning practice.  Building authentic relationships with community residents, organizations, and groups can raise such questions as

  • Who or what is “the community” and “the university?”
  • What is “service” and who is being “served”?
  • Who has the power to create legitimate knowledge and solutions to address pressing issues in communities?  How can an ABCD approach help to address this question?
  • How can faculty and community partners manage the work of mentoring/supervising students as co-educators? 
Professor Robin Hoecker
“As a result of this partnership, our community partner, Erie House, benefitted from increased public awareness and news coverage. For example, one student had several articles about DACA recipients and Rohingya refugees published in a local magazine.”
- Professor Robin Hoecker, Journalism


There are as many different types of reflection as there are courses, community sites, student learning styles, and faculty teaching approaches.  Successful reflection assignments are intentionally designed with carefully aligned academic learning objectives and they are integrated throughout the course, both in and outside the course.

The room helped bridge the gap between those at the school with severe autism, and those at the Theatre School who had never worked with people who had autism.
Ben Raanan, Service Learning student, Theatre School

View the list of reflection activities from K. Rice, "Reflection and Student Learning."

Examples of reflection assignments/activities include:

  • Ethical Case Studies
  • Self Portraits
  • Class Presentations
  • Personal Narratives
  • Site Reports with reflective commentary
  • Experiential Research Papers, researching a social issue encountered at a project or service site

Students can share their knowledge at the annual Service Speaks conference through power point, Pecha Kucha, performance, Spoken Word, etc.,

Professional Development

The CbSL Certificate Program​ allows DePaul faculty to: 

  • Identify appropriate evidence-based best practices for teaching CbSL and project-based learning
  • Reflect on and articulate your assumptions and beliefs about teaching and learning in the classroom and community
  • Apply pedagogical strategies and methods discussed in workshops to your teaching
  • Create a course or other teaching strategy that strengthens student learning and honors community partnerships
  • Develop a network of colleagues to discuss and develop pedagogical and career strategies
Here is our full calendar of faculty workshops​ for the 2023-2024 academic year and the corresponding Eventbrite to attend​.

Through the Faculty Community Immersion Institute participants will:

  • Deepen their understanding of cultivating and sustaining community partnerships
  • Deepen their understanding of Community-based Service Learning and Asset-Based Community Development
  • Deepen their understanding of community history, current social justice issues, and assets
  • Draft, revise, or improve a CbSL course, internship, or project

Steans Center Breakfasts

The Steans Center facilitates periodic informal conversations at the Center (2233 North Kenmore Avenue) on contemporary issues of interest in community-engaged work and service learning to faculty, staff and community members. Non-violence, social entrepreneurship, communications, gender, sustainability, your idea here?  Ideas welcome at  

One-on-One Consultation

Meet with a member of the Steans Center Staff to consult directly about a possible course, partnership, or project. Contact Helen Damon-Moore, Associate Director,​​