Community Based Engaged Learning


C-bEL is also known as "service learning," or on this campus you will sometimes hear people refer to it as the "ENGAGE Project." 

The C-bEL Designation is applied to courses and co-curricular projects (clubs, etc) that incorporate the following four criteria for Community-based Engaged Learning. 

Through Community-based Engaged Learning (C-bEL) …

  • students integrate theory and practice.
  • students have direct community experiences.
  • students participate in mutually beneficial collaborations with community partners.
  • students critically reflect on their community-based experiences

Basically, C-bEL courses are "hands on learning" courses where you take ideas you've learned in the classroom and apply them in the community. Often this means our local community, but it could also mean communities both nearby and far beyond Milledgeville. It is an educational approach that allows you to use what you are learning in the classroom to meet societal needs. And guess what? An overwhelming majority of hiring managers surveyed stated that they would be more likely to hire individuals who had participated in "a field-based project in a diverse community" or "a service learning project with a community organization" (AAC&U,2019). 

C-bEL courses and projects are a great choice for students who enjoy working with others in order to determine their needs and then working side by side with them to accomplish a worthwhile goal. C-bEL is also great for those who learn best when they have the opportunity to apply what they are learning. 

What are some examples of C-bEL at GCSU?

Each year students in Sandra Trujillo's ceramics courses create pots through the "Night of 100 Pots" event. They then sell their wares by the fountain to raise money for the Middle Georgia Community Food Bank. In 2019 they raised $1700! 

In Dr. Renée Fontenot's Strategic Marketing course, students work in competing teams/agencies with two clients to create year-long strategic marketing plans. Typically, one client is a non-profit organization and one is a business. Each client receives two or three competing plans to choose from. In 2019, the economic contribution of these plans was valued at roughly $135,000!

In Sandra Godwin's Sociology of Food & Agriculture course students work with community gardeners to prepare raised beds for planting and other garden up-keep such as pruning fruit trees and managing the compost pile. Occasionally students take farm tours with the gardeners to local and regional farms as well as urban farms in Atlanta.

How can I find a C-bEL course to sign up for?

The best way to find a C-bEL course is to work with your advisor in the advising center. They can help you find a course that will both meet a requirement of your core or major AND give you the opportunity to get involved in the community. Win-win! 

Some recent CbEL course offerings have included: 

  • GC1Y Social Problems with Eryn Viscarra
  • GC1Y Ability/Disability with Nicole DeClouette
  • GC2Y Global Connections with Mark Rochelo
  • GC2Y Theater for Social Change with Valeka Holt
  • GC2Y The AIDS Pandemic with Scott Butler
  • CRJU Canines and Corrections with Alesa Liles
  • PUAD Non-Profit Management with Kelley Ditzel


Do you already have a course that was C-bEL designated in the past that you are still offering? Make sure that your department chair sends that information to the Registrar every semester so that you get credit for it and interested students can more easily find it. 

Are you interested in creating a C-bEL designated course? If so, meet with Cynthia Alby (, and she will set you up with what you need and help you find a mentor to help get you started.

Where can I learn more about designing a C-bEL course?
Will I need a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)?

"Any time that part of the responsibility for students’ educational experiences is being shared with a community partner (e.g., a tutoring program, a non-profit organization, a local business, etc.), a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) should be put in place. MOUs can be for a single student placement for a single semester, or for many students across multiple years. MOUs spell out the university and the community partner’s obligations, rights, and expectations, and are also very important in clarifying issues relating to liability, background checks, and other risk-management aspects. Especially if the supervising faculty member is not physically directly supervising the student activities, it is vital for an MOU to be in place." (UGA, 2019) Not sure if this applies to your course? Our Office of Legal Affairs can help: , and the MOU form is located on My GCSU.

What is the history of C-bEL at GCSU?

C-bEL was GCSU's official "Quality Enhancement Program" (QEP) from 2014-2019. You can learn more about that early work at