Embedding service learning in engaged scholarship at research institutions to revitalize metropolitan neighborhoods


Over the past 2 decades, the form and function of teaching, research, and service activities labeled as community and civic engagement has increased. At the University of Memphis, the evolution of engaged scholarship has been strongly influenced by the grassroots-level participation of faculty who embraced service learning as an integral component of the engaged scholarship process centered on building community partnerships. In this article, we outline the history of service learning and community engagement at the University of Memphis resulting in the Strengthening Communities Initiative and suggest the role of internal social movements in transforming institutions of higher education and communities. Our model calls for program-initiated service learning, reciprocal partnerships, and institution-level changes to support engaged teaching and scholarship. Such a transformation requires visionary leadership at the institutional level, external demands for new thinking and acting, and a critical mass of engaged faculty and students. In addition, the model suggests that an organizing structure, such as the Strengthening Communities Initiative program, is key to further institutionalize the social movement and ultimately influence the cultural and philosophical core of institutions of higher education. © 2010 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Publication Title

Journal of Community Practice