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What is Community Service-Learning?

Community Service-Learning (CSL) is an educational approach that integrates service in the community with intentional learning activities. Within effective CSL efforts, members of both educational institutions and community organizations work together toward outcomes that are mutually beneficial.

Known by a variety of terms (e.g., service-learning, community-based learning), CSL programs are most effective when they include key elements drawn from experiential education theory, especially developing critical thinking and intentionally facilitating reflection.  Carefully designed and implemented CSL programs and courses assist students to make meaning from their community experiences, to connect experience outside of the classroom to more theoretical study, and to develop as individuals in relation to their values, their sense of social responsibility, and their leadership skills.

Community service-learning is relatively new to Canadian universities and colleges but has been active in the United States over the past two decades, where it is most commonly referred to as service-learning. Here are links to the excellent web resources of two major U.S. national organizations that promote and support service learning in American schools and communities.


Telelearning and Webinars


CSL Programs Across Canada






McConnell Foundation Programs


McConnell Foundation

In January 2005, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation launched it's National University-Based Community Service-Learning Program. They have provided funding to ten Canadian institutions to integrate CSL within their curriculum and to build strong partnerships with their local communities. The Foundation also funds the Canadian Alliance for Community Service-Learning.

National University-Based
Community Service-Learning Program