DePaul University Steans Center > Service Learning

Academic Service Learning

Student development is critical to the mission of the Steans Center and the curriculum of Community Service Studies. All of the programs at Steans are positioned to equip students with the knowledge and experience necessary to transform them into future leaders and socially conscious citizens. This comes in part from the hands-on, real world approach of community-based service learning that students experience through coursework, training, workshops, and privilege/social justice reflections. There are a wide variety of opportunities at the Steans Center for students to get involved with community-based service learning. Below are some of the ways that students can become involved.

Opportunities for DePaul students

  • Student employment at the Steans Center
  • Scholarships
  • Community-based research assistant opportunities
  • Internships with community organizations and schools
  • Events and workshops
  • Service learning study abroad

For more information, contact Helen Damon-Moore​.

What is Service Learning?

Academic Service-Learning (ASL) is a teaching method that may be integrated into any DePaul course.

DePaul students may find ASL as part of either required or elective courses from freshman year through PhD programs. Though it shares similarities with other forms of community engagement, ASL is not synonymous with volunteerism or community service. What makes ASL different is that it is fully integrated with course content (theories, methods, concepts, assignments) as a source of knowledge drawn from experiences developed through partnership between the community and the university. We cherish these community-university partnerships and seek to ensure that they are built on reciprocity, an exchange of knowledge for service provided with the community partners defining the parameters of the service.

ASL can be defined in several ways. At DePaul, we conceptualize ASL as a pedagogical tool intentionally integrating relevant and meaningful service with the community, academic learning, and civic learning. While it involves students in community service as a learning strategy, ASL is is an established teaching/learning method and should never be viewed as an "additional requirement," but one that is critical for reaching the learning objectives of your course.

ASL can appear in DePaul courses in many different forms:

Direct Service

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

Project-based Service

Students produce a tangible product by the end of the term (e.g., creating a website, PR plan, assessing organizational recruitment strategies). ​

Community-based Research

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


Students support an ongoing campaign to address a critical social, economic, and/or environmental issue in Chicago or internationally. ​


Solidarity involves valuing the dignity of all people, respecting them as individuals, in the pursuit of justice, community-building and peace. For example, the Center supports courses at prisons where DePaul students study side-by-side with incarcerated students as part of Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. ​

For questions about how and why service-learning is integrated within your course, please speak directly to your professor.​