University of Vermont

UVM Special Report:
Service-Learning & Community Engagement

Office of Community-University Partnerships & Service Learning

The CUPS Office supports academic service-learning — also known as community-engaged learning — at the University of Vermont.

What is academic service-learning?

In academic service-learning courses, students work in reciprocal partnerships with community partners, applying the skills of their disciplines in real-world settings. Students who practice service-learning have the opportunity to significantly deepen their educational experience while working to strengthen their communities. Service-learning is a documented high-impact practice (Kuh 2008; AAC&U LEAP Initiative) that has significant effects on student learning, engagement, retention and success.

Service-learning can take several different forms:

  • Direct service: with a client population, e.g. tutoring, coaching, mentoring, taking crisis calls, counseling
  • Indirect service: off campus but non-contact, such as sorting items at a food bank, creating a library, removing invasive species
  • Consultant model: providing specific services or deliverables, such as creating a website or business plan, writing a grant proposal, developing a policy brief
  • Community-based research: a collaborative research partnership where students conduct research to meet a community organizations' needs

CUPS is a faculty development and community engagement office for UVM, promoting reciprocal partnerships, engaged scholarship and service-learning pedagogy. Learn more about our work in About CUPS. For examples of community-engaged learning at UVM, see our News & Stories page.