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What is Community Engaged Learning?

Community Engaged Learning (CEL) is a proven, high impact way of learning that enables students, in collaboration with local organisations, to directly address identified real life issues related to their course subject. Whilst supporting you to further your mission and goals, CEL allows small groups of students to develop transferable skills and become more life-ready by applying their theoretical knowledge to practice, which in turn results in the creation of positive social impact.

What could Community Engaged Learning look like for you?

  • A project addressing identified need, such as a creating a brand, increasing engagement with stakeholders, or event planning.
  • Researching a topic that brings real world impact for your organisation, such as evaluating service user experience or exploring local need / provision of services.
  • Design projects, either testing out new ideas or generating designs to address a particular issue, such as making a community space more functional or energy saving initiatives.

Please see example NTU courses involving CEL modules below.

Benefits of working with NTU on a Community Engaged Learning project.

  • Students consider your needs from an informed yet impartial, ‘third party’ perspective not often found outside of consultancy.
  • Increase your capacity by accessing university resources, eg specialist knowledge and trained researchers.
  • Build and/or develop your partnership with NTU.

How to get involved in a Community Engaged Learning project.

The Community Engagement and Volunteering Team are here to help you understand how best to work with NTU staff and students to turn your CEL project ideas into reality. During an arranged briefing session, we will help you to:​

  • Understand the opportunities for collaboration​, identifying potential courses to work with that reflect the aims of your project and timeframes
  • Understand the expectations and limitations of working with NTU
  • Offer support and guidance in completing your project brief form, acting as soundboard for ideas
  • Arrange to speak with another community organisation or academic staff member who run an existing CEL project.

To request a briefing session for you or your team please email:

If you do not require a briefing session please complete this short project brief form.

Undergraduate Continuing Professional Development

School: Nottingham Business School

Project name: #NBSBright

Academic Lead: Caroline Berrill

Brief overview: Students working as a group to work on a business challenge submitted by local VCS organisations as part of final year UG CPD module.  Students produce a PowerPoint presentation with narration with recommendations for the organisation.

Employment and Enterprise

School: Nottingham Business School

Academic Lead: Sarah Gibbons

Brief overview: Students undertake a work or work like experience by either volunteering individually in the local community, working on a group project with local VCSE organisations, or taking part in an Enterprise Challenge with all money raised going to the John Van Geest Centre, allowing them to understand theory and apply it to their practice.

Experiential Learning

School: Nottingham Business School

Academic Lead: Angela Scott

Brief overview: Credit bearing experiential learning projects related to students’ specific degree. Each brief is pre-approved with the participating VCS organisations, who act in effect act as 'clients' to the student team who are acting as consultants / business advisers.

Theory and Application to Mental Health 

School: School of Social Sciences

Academic Lead: Mhairi Bowe

Brief overview: Students are assigned real-world challenges supplied by partner VCS organisations, and conduct analysis of existing empirical and public sources to provide evidence-based solutions for organisational practice. These findings are then disseminated at a student conference using a poster presentation. Students also provide a consultancy report for their assigned organisation.

Criminology in the Real World 

School: School of Social Sciences

Academic Lead: Andrea Lyons-Lewis

Brief Overview: This module uses a service-learning methodology with students working in small groups to apply their criminological thinking and knowledge to real world issues. Using action research and participatory working methods, students work with practitioners, academics and community members to propose and explore potential solutions to ‘real world’ criminological issues. Through the process of reflective practice, this module seeks to better understand how we might align the ‘doing’ of criminology with concepts such as active citizenship, identity, human rights and ultimately, ‘justice’.

Critical Service Learning in Sociology

School: School of Social Sciences

Academic Lead: Sharon Hutchings

Brief Overview: This module offers a version of service learning that sits within a social justice orientation, known as critical service learning. Simply put, this involves student groups working in partnership with our not-for-profit community on social justice issues for the purpose of social change and mutual benefit. For academic year 21/22, students will be working in groups to look at two areas of work in the city – supporting individuals with no recourse to public funds and low paid, insecure work.

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