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How Mississippi State University Defines Service-Learning and Engagement

The definitions provided below were adapted and elaborated from Mississippi State University’s Vision and Mission Statement, Strategic Plan, the “Carnegie Elective Classification for Community Engagement” report, and examinations of definitions used at peer institutions in the southeast and other regions of the U.S. They were approved by the Community Engagement Committee in spring 2016 and are the university-wide accepted definitions of these terms.

Community Engagement describes collaboration between MSU and partnering communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.

Communities consist of groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interests, or situational similarities at the local, regional/state, national, or global levels.
Mutuality refers to an interdependence or shared interest, purpose, or benefit between two or more collaborators.
Partnership is an association between communities and MSU to undertake a shared, mutually beneficial action or endeavor.
Reciprocity refers to a mutually beneficial exchange between MSU and its community partners.

Community Service defines collaboration between members of MSU and a community or community-based group that results in beneficial services. Community service may, or may not, be related to an academic program and can be performed by students, faculty, and staff. Community service includes co-curricular service and civic engagement.

Civic Engagement is a type of community service that fosters citizenship through engagement in issues of public interest and/or participation in governance activities.
Co-curricular Service is a type of community service performed by students that is not formally linked to an academic curriculum, but fosters student learning.
Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that uses reflection to link community service with academic course objectives to enrich the educational experience of students, teach civic responsibility, and meet the needs of a community.

Community-engaged Research (synonymous with Community-based Research) refers to a research partnership between MSU and communities that is mutually beneficial and includes some degree of shared decision making and leadership between communities and MSU.


Community-engaged Learning (synonymous with Community-based Learning) denotes academically-based community engaged courses that may integrate a range of teaching and learning strategies, including, but not limited to: service-learning, Co-op, externship, internship, practicum, clinical, capstone, research project, public service, practice-based learning, experiential education, and experiential learning.


Scholarship of Engagement refers to academic scholarship that focusing on the improvement of the practice of community engagement and/or to academic scholarship resulting from the practice of community engagement, sometimes called Engaged Scholarship.


Scholarship includes, but is not limited to, obtaining grants, conducting research, writing scholarly publications, delivering presentations, creating curricula, creating art, and producing artistic performances.


Extension provides MSU's research-based information, educational programs, and technology transfer focused on issues and needs of the people of Mississippi, enabling them to make informed decisions about their economic, social, and cultural well-being.