Categories of Community Engagement
At the University of West Florida we define our community engagement by category. We have formally adopted the following categories and definitions.
At the University of West Florida, curricular engagement refers to all credit earning service learning or community based learning including field studies, internships, clinical work and practicum.
Service learning at UWF is a high impact practice, delivering the invaluable application of knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom to address an identified community need in a manner that enhances student learning, and contributes to the public good.
In fact UWF operates under a multifaceted definition of service learning. It is defined as requiring "practical application, in a clinical setting, of knowledge acquired in the classroom." UWF has simultaneously been operating under a modified version of the Bringle/Hatcher (1996) definition of service learning. In this respect, service learning refers to an uncompensated, credit-bearing educational experience in which students participate in a service activity with a non-profit, faith-based, or educational community partner and "reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader application of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility."
UWF has also been a member of the Campus Compact coalition for many years and has adopted their established best practices. Additionally as part of our current QEP, UWF adopted George Kuh's definitions of high impact practices. This directly relates to service learning, as "the idea is to give students direct experience with issues they are studying in the curriculum and with ongoing efforts to analyze and solve problems in the community. A key element in these programs is the opportunity students have to both apply what they are learning in real-world settings and reflect in a classroom setting on their service experiences."
The term Community Partnerships refers to UWF's commitment to engaging in mutually beneficial community partnerships. We define these partnerships as relationships grounded in an understanding between and among representatives of an institution of higher education and community representatives regarding each other's long-range goals, needs, timelines, resources, and capacity for developing and implementing community engagement activities that leverage opportunities and respond to changing needs; advance educational, cultural, and economic development; and enhance the quality of life of the citizens and communities the institution serves.
Service & Citizenship
The Office of Service & Citizenship oversees a vast array of initiatives to support students' lifelong commitment to community service and active citizenship for positive social change. The Office of Community Engagement supports this mission and communicates the impact of these initiatives. Service & Citizenship also refers to such engagement by faculty, staff and students from within their respective departments and units.
Institutional Commitment & Enrichment Initiatives
The University of West Florida identifies community engagement as a priority in its mission, vision, values, and strategic plan. There are a significant number of Institutes, Centers, Programs and Initiatives that demonstrate our considerable commitment as a regional comprehensive university to enhancing the quality of life in Northwest Florida.