Dr. Patti Clayton, well-known Service-Learning Scholar wrote "The Power of Little Words" emphasizing the importance of the word “with” when considering the creation of community partnerships. The Center for Community-Engaged Learning (CCEL) focuses on creating opportunities “with” community partners regardless of who they may be. CCEL faculty and staff practice what we have termed “withness” or working in tandem with (as opposed to “doing to”) a particular partner.
For example, CCEL staff may become aware of a particular need within a community or of a particular faculty member. Instead of formulating the course and having pre-conceived notions of what needs to occur within that course, community partners are invited to campus to meet with faculty to discuss the opportunities for collaboration. Often, it is at these initial meetings that new ideas are generated and even better service-learning experiences emerge.
The development of service-learning classes at MSU is a collaborative, interactive process which, when done with purpose, creates measurable learning outcomes for all parties.