Useful Terms

Civic Engagement

Battistoni (2002) suggests that a civically engaged citizen relies upon skills that are useful to society; civic skills include critical thinking, communication, collective action, and organizational analysis. While one service-learning project will not necessarily build a civically engaged citizen, service-learning activities are designed to help students learn to use their skills in service of citizenship.

Community Engagement

According to the CSU Chancellor's Office, community engagement describes the "collaboration between higher education institutions and their larger communities... for the mutually beneficial exchange and production of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity." Service-learning is one of many types of community engagement activities. (See for more information.)

Place-Based Education

According to Dr. Claudia Luke, Director of SSU Field Stations & Preserves, place-based education situates learning in a localized setting (i.e., place) that can be explored by a diverse community of learners. Because different learners have different attachements to and interests in a place, place-based learning invites interdisciplinary collaborations.


A form of community engagement, service-learning is an important tool for increasing students' civic learning and engagement. According to the SSU Academic Senate, service-learning situates a community service project within the context of an academic course and asks students to treat their service experience as a "text"; community service efforts enrich academic knowledge, and vice versa.

To maximize the value of students' work, faculty develop service-learning projects in partnership with community partners to meet an expressed community need. For more information about service-learning at SSU, refer to


Although SSU faculty define "sustainable" in various ways, they generally use the “triple bottom line definition, which considers the environment, the economy, and social equity. They also generally agree with the United Nation's Brundtland Commission's 1987 Report, Our Common Future. The Report defines sustainable development as one that "meets the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."