At the start of this academic year, President Jacobs announced that this was the “The Year of Engagement” at UNG. This vision was supported by the keynote speaker Karen Holbrook, a higher education consultant and former president of the Ohio State University, who pointed out that we are “ideally positioned to respond to the goals of the Kellogg Commission Reports of the past and the nearly identical goals for the so-called ‘University of the Future.’” The 1999 report entitled “Returning to our Roots: The Engaged Institution” suggests three goals that an engaged university must accomplish: “1. It must be organized to respond to the needs of today’s students and tomorrow’s, not yesterday’s. 2. It must enrich students’ experiences by bringing research and engagement into the curriculum and offering practical opportunities for students to prepare for the world they will enter. 3. It must put its critical resources (knowledge and expertise) to work on the problems the communities it serves face.”

The concept of engagement, broadly considered, aligns with so much that UNG currently does. We have been designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a Community Engagement University. We have a strong collaboration with our larger communities—local, regional, national, and global—for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.

One essential dimension of our engagement is service-learning. This high-impact educational practice contextualizes and animates course content through active, hands-on learning with community partners. The service requirement provides experience that animates abstract ideas. A structured, reflective analysis of the community service often fosters student understanding about the way in which course content is relevant to real-world issues. Service-learning happens as part of a credit-bearing academic course and is considered only one component to satisfy the requirements of a regular course. It is based on the principles of reciprocity between community partners and higher education.

If you’re interested in exploring service-learning as an option in your courses, you can learn more at the UNG Service-Learning site.


“Returning to our Roots: The Engaged Institution.” Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities. Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), n.d. Web 4 Sept. 2014.

“Classification Description: Community Engagement Elective Classification.” Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. n.p., n.d. Web. 4 Sept. 2014.