Students volunteering in garden

Community Based Learning

Community Based Learning (CBL) and Community Based Research (CBR) at NDNU are designed to enhance student learning through connecting academic learning and community engagement. This is accomplished by creating partnerships in the community with organizations that help students achieve learning goals while simultaneously affecting positive change in the community. The Sr. Dorothy Stang Center for Social Justice and Community Engagement through our faculty engagement initiatives provides the infrastructure and resources to institutionalize and support community based learning and community based research by:

  • identifying and maintaining relationships with community partners;
  • offering faculty resources for course planning, professional development and connecting with community partners;
  • providing student-led projects with support and leadership development; and
  • acting as a communication nexus for community partners, faculty, staff and students engaged in community based learning

NDNU developed the Bonner Leadership Program to engage with NDNU students with a high financial aid need to serve their communities. These student social activists volunteer with NDNU’s community partners a minimum of 300 hours per year and, in return, are awarded up to $10,000 in financial aid. Each Bonner Leader is trained on effective leadership techniques and is availed the resources to begin to question historical social injustices and to offer solutions for materializing equality wherever the opportunity may manifest.

In 2007 the Dorothy Stang Faculty Scholars Program was established for those faculty interested in teaching CBL/CBR courses. Ten faculty members have been selected as scholars and have participated in professional development activities over the past two years. The faculty scholars represent NDNU’s three schools, both undergraduate and graduate studies, and ten disciplines.

In 2010, NDNU received a $10,000 grant from California Campus Compact and the Corporation for National and Community Service to help Nesbit Elementary School restore some of the programs and services impacted by the state budget cuts. The grant was awarded as part of phase three of California Campus Compact’s Social Innovation Generation: Student Leadership Initiative, which aims to assist those hardest-hit by the recent economic crisis through student-led service and service-learning projects, with a focus on creating a more sustainable future for California. NDNU is one of five colleges and universities in the state to receive this grant for phase three. Students participating in this 18-month project have created a website and Facebook page to chronicle their work.

NDNU has a long history of community engagement, rooted in the university's mission of social justice, global peace, and teaching students "what they need to know for life." We offer nearly 20 community based learning courses, house several student-led service clubs and projects, use the arts as a vehicle for exploring social justice themes through the Sr. Dorothy Stang Center, and recently received a generous grant to apply GIS technology in the community. Come, join us!