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Engage community in your courses

Community-engaged learning (CEL) brings community and students together.

This type of course-based learning is a partnership between community groups, businesses and organizations or all shapes and sizes, and UVic students and faculty. 

Through CEL, students gain meaningful hands-on experience that supports and honours the community.

The goals of CEL are to:

  • contribute to community projects
  • foster meaningful learning experiences
  • honour and learn from community wisdom and experience
  • provide opportunities for students to recognize themselves as members of community and to build reciprocal relationships

Ways to engage with community

As an instructor, you can develop opportunities for students to connect their learning outcomes with community initiatives through CEL. There are different levels of engagement:


Community and students inform each other about initiatives and developments

E.g., Former Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps discussing the urban food system with students in the Growing Community Class).


Students consult on community projects by providing research and other support.

E.g., students studying Comparative Electoral Systems joint with local political organizations to host community outreach events around electoral reform in BC.


Students are actively involved and participate in community initiatives.

E.g., psychology students work with the Centre for Autism Research Technology and Education to enhance the social and emotional skills of children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).


Community collaborates with UVic students and/or faculty to develop and implement projects together.

E.g., anthropology students learning about Indigenous cartographies and ethnographic mapping through collaboration to protect ancestral sites with Hul’q’umi’num’ Elders and Parks Canada.


Community works directly with faculty to co-create, co-deliver and co-evaluate community-engaged learning.

E.g., archaeology Field School: Students excavating at an ancient Tseshaht First Nation settlement in the Broken Group Islands unit of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Types of community-engaged learning

At UVic there 4 main types of community-engaged learning:

1) Community-service learning courses

These for-credit courses are a blend of classroom experience and volunteering or unpaid placements with community groups, where students dive into the day-to-day operations and connect their community experience with course content. 

Example: Community Engagement 300, an interdisciplinary course in Social Sciences where students learn about the role of non-profit organizations through a 40-hour placement with regional non-profits like the Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture

2) Field-based learning courses

These courses typically include 1 to 3 weeks of place-based and/or land-based learning with community.

Example: The I-witness field school, where students explore the ways in which the Holocaust has become memorialized in Central Europe through visits with relevant community groups in Europe.

3) Community-engaged projects

In these CEL courses, students work on a community project that supports a community initiative and student learning goals.

Example: the Media Production for Writers course, where two students created journalistic content for Tao Wellness to showcase their work and their members.

4) Community-engaged research courses

In this type of course, students do research requested by or developed with community that supports community initiatives and student learning goals.

Example: Chem 399, a research experience course, where a student applied and built chemistry research skills while reducing drug-related deaths with Substance Drug Checking.

How to take part

Contact us and we can help you:

  • identify opportunities for CEL in your courses and research areas
  • connect your research to community initiatives and student learning
  • navigate UVic systems and processes
  • explore funding opportunities

Funding opportunities

UVic offers the following funds to support the development, redevelopment and delivery of CEL courses.

CEL Emergent Activities Fund

Up to $250 to the faculty member to cover costs like community partner honorarium, transportation and printing.


  • UVic instructors, including sessionals, practicum coordinators and lab instructors
  • Not yet received support from this fund for this academic year
  • Not yet received support from this fund for this same element of this same CEL endeavour

Experiential Learning Fund Grant for Community-Engaged Learning

Provides funding for projects that help increase opportunities for students to participate in experiential learning AND to build capacity for experiential learning at UVic.


Social Sciences CEL Contingency Fund

This fund provides faculty with up to $250 to cover costs that emerge during the process of facilitating a CEL course.


  • UVic instructors, including sessionals, practicum coordinators and lab instructors in Social Sciences

Other funding

  • Learning and Teaching Grants & Pro-D: These funds support instructors taking on course and curricular reforms and innovations, including CEL courses.
  • Learning and Teaching with Community: Climate Initiatives: Funded by the Business & Higher Education RoundTable, this grant supports instructors to deliver community-engaged courses broadly focused on climate justice, sustainability, resilience and green transitions. Funds can cover honorariums, transportation and materials. This funding requires student reporting through pre- and post- experience surveys.

Contact us to learn about emerging funding opportunities.

Students & community

Need help?

Need help? Email us and we'll answer your questions.