• Announcing 2020 CELO Award Winners

    Although our awards reception is postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, CELO is delighted to announce the winners of our 2020 Community-Engaged Learning Awards.

    See this year's winners

  • Community-Engaged Learning Course Designation

    Courses designated as Service Learning (SL) or Civic Learning (CL) on the Schedule of Courses include everything from introductory-level projects offering initial exposure to community engagement to full-year, service-learning capstone experiences that launch students into life after UVM. 

    See the designation criteria, learn more about the process, and designate your SL/CL course.

  • Faculty Fellows for Service-Learning workshop

    Faculty Fellows for Community-Engaged Learning

    Since 1999, CELO has trained more than 200 faculty members in service-learning pedagogy and related community engagement.

    Read more about our Faculty Development

  • Community-Engaged Learning Opportunities for Students

    Whether you are interested in exploring community-engaged learning for the first time, or have completed multiple community-engaged course, there are many opportunities to continue connecting your academic skills and interests to real-world experiences with community partners. Learn more about how you can get involved!


The rapidly changing circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak affect all aspects of UVM life, and in particular how we think about community engagement. For faculty already teaching community-engaged (particularly service  learning) courses, who need to think about how to run those courses for fall in uncertain circumstances, please read CELO's guide to adapting your commuity-engaged course for flexible delivery.

Drawing on work of colleagues around the country, we have also compiled some resources and initial guidance below for faculty teaching community-engaged courses.

If you are hoping to address community needs arising from the current crisis, the United Way of Northwest Vermont has a volunteer connection page specifically set up for COVID-19 response.

Please, please stay in touch and let us know how we can best support community-engaged learning during this difficult time.

Initial Steps

  • Please communicate directly with your community partners. Partners are likely aware of UVM's decision, but may not be clear what options remain to them, or how UVM's policies may affect their capacity or work plan.
  • Communicate directly with your students to reassure them that you will proactively support them in this challenging time.
    • Adjust your syllabus to reflect the new course reality. You may find these Principles shared from UNC Chapel Hill to be a helpful adjusted syllabus example.
    • We suggest recording a video of yourself assuring students of your support and flexibility, and asking them for genuine effort in completing coursework to the extent possible.
    • Make clear that students will not be held accountable for work/service that cannot be completed in light of both UVM's policies, local/state directives and evolving community partner needs.
  • UVM's Center for Teaching & Learning has a shared Google document on Teaching with Compassion & Focus Amid Disruption.
  • Transforming COVID into a Learning Opportunity for Your Students from Simon Fraser University contains valuable resources organized by discipline.
  • Plymouth State University has a helpful Keeping it Simple as You Go Remote for COVID19 resource and worksheet for faculty (distilling online delivery down into manageable Guiding Principles, Tools, Content Chunks, etc.).
  • Emphasize to students that the flexibility required in community-engaged learning is exactly the kind of resilience needed in crises like the one we are currently facing. Remind them that they are continuing to learn through this experience, regardless of being able to complete service/work; they are not being "cheated" of a learning experience!
  • Consider providing resources on social distancing and opportunities for reflection on the COVID-19 pandemic itself to students (see below). Community partners may be in different stages of accepting social distancing: while some community partners in Burlington are restricting all non-staff (e.g. King Street Youth Center just shut down all volunteer programs), other organizations may wish that UVM students could continue in person. Help students reflect on and learn from any variation in community response.
  • Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL) staff are working hard to figure out the technology options; contact them for resources on teaching continuity.
  • Iowa & Minnesota Campus Compacts has released a helpful Coronavirus and the Engaged Campus resource, which includes (if you scroll down the page) ideas for virtual engagement.  

Continuing with Project-Based (aka Consultant-Model) Service-Learning

  • Prepare yourself and your students for the possibility that circumstances will continue to change and even projects initially continued remotely may still need to be suspended.
  • If the project can't continue as planned, ask community partners if alternative project-based work can be completed. Examples may include:
    • conducting background research
    • gathering best practices
    • creating a list of grant opportunities
    • remote interviewing
    • creation of online resources (i.e. web content, podcasts, etc.) and/or social media conten 
  • Consider adding your community partner(s) to your Microsoft Teams group for your course.
  • You can migrate the learning outcomes of the SL project directly into other assignments, such as fact finding, project management exercises, skills assessments, research, critical reflection, etc. Spelling out these connections for students may be helpful.
  • Students can also analyze their progress to date and work through various scenarios to guess at results/conclusions/recommendations. They may also be able to develop plans of action for the project(s) to go forward in future semesters.

Continuing with Direct Service Partners

  • Some partners may be able to accommodate remote service delivery, such as virtual tutoring of youth, or virtual visits to a senior facility.  It may be worth exploring these possibilities.
  • However, coordinating this with students in multiple locations and with varying technological resources may be challenging. Prepare your students for the possibility that circumstances will continue to change; even if work can initially be done remotely, continuing that work may or may not be possible.
  • It may also be possible that students can transition to doing project-based work for the community partner(s) — see above for examples. Always check with partners first, and recognize that they may not have capacity to engage with new projects. CELO can help brainstorm possibilities based on other successful service-learning partnerships if a community partner is interested.
  • Consider adding your community partner(s) to your Microsoft Teams group for your course.

Suspending Engagement with Community Partners

If it's not possible to continue your community partnership, the syllabus and course assignments can be redesigned to draw upon the initial service period and the intended learning outcomes for community-based work.

  • Retrieval practice may be a tool to use previous reflections and service to access knowledge in reflection and analysis assignments, allowing students to re-analyze their service experiences.
  • Similarly, students could spend time analyzing similarities and differences among their various sites and projects, reflecting on each other's service experiences.
  • Identify key learning outcomes established for the community-engaged learning component(s) of the course, and assign relevant articles, TEDtalks, podcasts, etc. that engage with those outcomes. Make explicit to students how and why you are translating these learning outcomes into new assignments.
  • Add material related to COVID-19 to address course learning outcomes that can no longer be achieved through community-engaged work. Connecting the virus's differential impact on communities, responses of leadership, personal civic responsibility, etc. We are happy to help find materials and resources (and have included a list of reflection resources in the section below).

Critical Reflection Ideas & Resources

Even in normal circumstances, community-engaged learning requires a flexible definition of success and the opportunity to learn from real-world challenges. As students and faculty alike are now faced with uncertainly, this may be a good opportunity to increase the time for critical reflection, allowing students to make meaning and achieve learning outcomes in the face of an unprecedented societal crisis.

Resources from CELO

We are happy to offer our any of our in-class workshops remotely to your students. If there is interest, we can create a recorded workshop to offer asynchronously to students as well. Please email Susan (susan.munkres@uvm.edu) and Tom (tom.wilson@uvm.edu) if you'd like to discuss possible options. Workshops could include (but are not limited to):
  • Transferable Skills — Help students identify the personal & professional skills they've gained in their service-learning experience, and how to convey those skills in job searches and future professional settings
  • Critical Reflection — The importance of critical reflection, and ways to do it effectively
  • Burlington/VT Communities — Helping students make sense of new cultural experiences, and orient them to some of Burlington and Vermont's historically marginalized communities

Above all, please don't hesitate to reach out to CELO if you want any support in determining how to move forward with your community-engaged courses. We are happy to help you adjust work, reconfigure assignments, reconsider grading, and so forth.


This is, of course, a rapidly evolving situation for everyone, and we plan to update this site with additional guidance and resources as they come available. Please contact us if you have other specific questions or concerns related to community engagement, or if there are other resources you would like to see us include in this space.

UVM's Center for Teaching & Learning is also offering a wide range of technical assistance and consultation for all the logistics of remote instruction, including their website, and FB group. We are extremely grateful for the CTL's efforts, and encourage all faculty to take full advantage of the assistance they are offering.

Many community engagement professionals have contributed resources that we are drawing on. Gratitude in particular to: The Center for Civic Reflection, Iowa & Minnesota Campus Compacts, IUPUI Center for Service and Learning, Loyola University, Indiana University, Plymouth State University, UNC Chapel Hill, Simon Fraser University, Political Science Now.


The Community-Engaged Learning Office (CELO) is UVM's home for academic service-learning. Our goal is to help students put their learning into practice on behalf of the many communities connected to UVM.

The University of Vermont has a distinguished history of community-engaged teaching and learning. As the home and alma mater of John Dewey, UVM is the spiritual home of this high-impact practice, and has long valued engagement in community and experiential education as key foundations for citizenship. CELO continues this work, maintaining relationships with community partners, and supporting pathways for students to engage in communities throughout their time at UVM and beyond.

CELO trains faculty in the pedagogy and practice of service-learning, helping to provide students with access to roughly 100 service-learning courses a year and in every school and college. These courses work in partnership with hundreds of organizations: nonprofits, local government entities, small businesses, community associations, and more. Students in service-learning courses offer technical, logistical, educational, design and clinical support, applying the tools of their discipline to concrete and real issues.


94 service-learning courses71 faculty teaching SL courses177 community partners to SL courses
42% of 2019 graduating seniors took at least one SL course6 new Faculty Fellows for Community-Engaged Learning7 awards for Outstanding Service-Learning


CELO works to create a community of practice among UVM faculty built on the high-impact practice of community-engaged learning. We designate courses; offer a Faculty Fellows program; and provide many other faculty development opportunities, in-course supports, and other course development resources. 

More for Faculty >> 


CELO can help students get involved with many different partners, professions, and communities in Burlington and beyond. Whether you have completed one community-engaged learning course or many, there are opportunities to continue connecting your academic skills and interests to real-world experiences with community partners.

More for Students >>

Community Partners

If you are interested in parrtnering with a UVM course, here is the place to start. Service-learning is a reciprocal partnership between community organizations, professors and students. Students engage in work that benefits a community organization, while faculty provide a structure for accountability to the project or service that helps students learn from their experience.

More for Community Partners >>