What is community-based learning and research?

Community-based learning and research is a teaching and learning strategy that emphasizes experiential learning, direct service, and community partnership. It links community engagement and academic study through mutually beneficial collaborations that provide rich learning experiences and research opportunities for students and faculty in practical applications that effectively address community needs and concerns. Our community partners become our team-teachers as students learn from residents, professionals, and organizations in ways that are not possible through traditional classroom learning. Community partners, in collaboration with faculty, generate questions that are researched in courses, internships, independent studies, EXCEL scholar projects, and independent faculty research.

Community-based learning and research allows students and faculty to:

  • Test the validity of facts and theories, and study concrete instances of phenomena presented in course readings, lectures, and discussions
  • Learn from people in the local community who have expertise in subjects outside of Lafayette faculty expertise
  • Analyze ways in which concepts and skills learned in a traditional academic setting might be used to solve real-life problems
  • Work collaboratively with those not part of the campus community to design and implement projects that benefit the larger community
  • Pursue scholarly projects in their field of interest

Experiential learning in action