"IMAGINE A UNIVERSITY that has deliberately and persistently built meaningful relationships with members of its wider community—neighborhood groups, community-based organizations, local citizens, nonprofits, and governmental agencies. Imagine that at this university, in their first-year, students begin to see how a variety of disciplinary lenses can be employed to understand important issues facing their institution, the local area, and larger society. In subsequent years of study, students come to understand the various policy levers by which participatory democratic change can be enacted—on campus and off. Students would learn the precepts of democratic deliberation and be invited to witness and later participate in various forums in which local, national, and global issues are debated and discussed."

— “Reimagining the Civic Imperative of Higher Education,”
by Elizabeth Hollander and Matthew Hartley 

Integrating civic engagement into academic curricula exposes students to complex issues and ideas in dynamic ways, not only helping them develop professional skills useful in securing employment after graduation, but also encouraging them to be more thoughtful and active citizens of the world. There are several books, articles and websites that go into detail and offer compelling arguments for how engaged scholarship and experiential learning can lead to transformative academic experiences. Listed below are a handful of examples:

Articles from CCE Affiliates

Articles on Public Service

  • "A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy's Future" from The National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement
    This 2012 report, published by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, serves as a call to action for institutions of higher education to more deeply focus on & integrate civic engagement into their cultures and curricula. (click here and scroll to bottom for a link to a downloadable .pdf from

  • "Reimagining the Civic Imperative of Higher Education" in A Different Kind of Politics: Readings on the Role of Higher Education in Democracy
    by Elizabeth Hollander and Matthew Hartley
    This brief, introductory essay offers a persuasive overview of how the university, through the employment of community engagement, can help maintain civic discourse and a healthy democracy. (click here and scroll to bottom for a link to a downloadable .pdf from

  • "At A Glance: What We Know about the Effects of Service-Learning on College Students, Faculty, Institutions and Communities" from
    Janet S. Eyler, Dwight E. Giles, Jr., Christine M. Stenson, and Charlene J. Gray, eds.
    This piece offers an extensive and dense index of research on service-learning in higher education and its impact on academic outcomes. (.pdf)


  • A Different Kind of Politics: Readings on the Role of Higher Education in Democracy
    Derek Barker, ed.
    Barker presents research on the implications of the civic engagement movement and its efforts to treat students as active and engaged citizens while building democratic relationships within communities.

  • Pedagogies of Praxis: Course-based Action Research in the Social Sciences
    Nila Ginger Hofman and Howard Rosing, eds.
    This compilation identifies case studies on the (successful and unsuccessful) efforts to build public interest partnerships between higher education institutions and community-based organizations and their implications

  • Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community's Assets
    by John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight
    A must-read for anyone interested in community development work, this handbook demonstrates that the most successful community development initiatives often emphasize building upon a community's strengths, rather than focusing on it's weaknesses. This concept, known as Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), is the focus of Northwestern's Asset-Based Community Development Institute.

  • The Civically Engaged Reader
    Adam Davis and Elizabeth Lynn, eds.
    Assembling more than forty provocative and diverse readings that range across literature, philosophy, and religion, this compilation invites reflection on all kinds of civic-minded activities—from giving and serving to leading and associating—and on the vital connections between thought and service. The book is an excellent resource for faciliting reflection activities.


    Campus Compact is a national coalition of more than 1,100 college and university presidents - representing some 6 million students - dedicated to promoting community service, civic engagement, and service-learning in higher education. Northwestern University is a member of the Illinois chapter of Campus Compact. Their website offers a wide range of online resources and readings that offer insight into developing syllabi, assessing outcomes, facilitating reflection and other elements of service-learning.

    The Kettering Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan research organization rooted in the American tradition of cooperative research. Everything Kettering researches relates to one central question: what does it take for democracy to work as it should? Or put another way: What does it take for citizens to shape their collective future? A focus of their research is on higher learning and "the possibilities of bridging public work with the institutional routines of schools."