In 2015, UWF was awarded the prestigious Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. UWF is applying for reclassification for the 2024 application cycle.
The University of West Florida (UWF) has adopted the Carnegie definition and purpose statement for community engagement. The Carnegie Foundation defines community engagement as, "the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. The purpose of community engagement is the partnership of college and university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching, and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good."
At the UWF, we also define our community engagement by category. We have formally adopted the following categories and definitions: Curricular Engagement, Community Partnerships, Institutional Commitment & Enrichment Initiatives, and Service & Citizenship. Each category is defined in more detail below.
At UWF, curricular engagement refers to credit-earning service learning or community-based learning including field studies, internships, clinical work, and practicum. 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."
UWF defines Service Learning as a combination of community service with classroom instruction, focusing on critical, reflective thinking as well as personal civic responsibility. Service learning programs involve students in activities that address global needs while developing their academic skills and commitment to their community.
Community partnerships refer to UWF's commitment to engaging in mutually beneficial collaborations with organizations in our community. 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.
Institutional Commitment & Enrichment Initiatives
UWF 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.
Service and Citizenship
Service and Citizenship includes a vast array of initiatives to support students' lifelong commitment to community service and active citizenship for positive social change. Community and Employer Engagement supports this mission and communicates the impact of these initiatives. Service and citizenship also refers to such engagement by faculty, staff, and students from within their respective departments and units.