Community Engagement

University of Northern Iowa - Community Engagement

Course Designation

The University of Northern Iowa’s Initiative - Enhancing Service-Learning at UNI - allows faculty/instructors to designate their courses as a service-learning course. The service-learning (SL) designation allows students to intentionally seek out courses that include a high-impact practice. High-impact educational practices have been proven to be significantly beneficial for students of all backgrounds.  

Information to Consider When Applying for the SL Designation

Prior to applying for the service-learning designation, faculty/instructors are encouraged to review:

Application for Service-Learning Course Designation

The service-learning course designation requires:

  • The completed application (Please review this PDF version of the application to prepare your answers. The application is a Google Doc. It is recommended to prepare your answers in Word and then cut and paste your answers into the Google Doc. Application.)
  • The course syllabus for which you are applying and assignment instructions, guidelines, and any information about your project that isn't outlined in your syllabus (please attach). 


Early-bird deadline: Friday, September 11; notification of approval/conditional approval within two weeks 

Deadline Extended: Friday, October 9; notification of approval/conditional approval within two weeks

Information Sessions:

Wed. Sept. 9, 2020- 1:00-2:00 p.m via Zoom  
Fri. Sept. 18, 2020- 9:00-10:00 a.m. via Zoom
Wed. Sept. 30th, 2020- 4:00-5:00 p.m.* via Zoom

All meetings will be held on Zoom via the following link:

Individual consultations may be scheduled if the above Zoom meeting times do not fit your schedule. Please contact Julianne Gassman ( to schedule an individual meeting

*Please note the time change for the Wednesday, September 30th meeting*

Frequently Asked Questions

Question #1: What is meant by service-learning activities as written in #1 of the definition about critical thinking and professional communication skills?

Answer: Service-learning classes can include a variety of activities. The entire class can participate in one activity such as organize an event for a local nonprofit organization or doing a river clean up. Activities can also be different for each student or group of students. Service-learning activities can include live-client projects common in the College of Business. Service-learning can be project-based. Also, see types of service-learning for more ideas.

Question #2: What do you mean by community?

Answer: Community applies to both the local community as well as the global community.

Question #3: How do I align activities in my class with community strengths and needs?

Answer: Faculty and staff are encouraged to consult with their community partner(s) prior to, or as part of the project/activity development. The activities and/or projects should be mutually defined by both the community and university partners and be mutually beneficial to both enhance student learning and contribute to the betterment of the community.

Question #4: What types of activities, discussion or assignments could address #7 of the definition about engaging with diverse populations in diverse settings?

    Answer: This criterion could be addressed in an assignment, a class discussion or be a major component of the class. Issues of diversity and inclusion can be broadly applied across all disciplines. Examples include:

    • How does the service-learning activity address stereotypes?
    • When designing a website, discuss who has access to the information, who doesn’t, did you provide closed captioning, why or why not?
    • For a trash clean up service project, discuss waste as it relates to poverty and wealth.  
    • A project that includes removing invasive species from parks might include an assignment or discussion on how non-native species can cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.


    Should you have further inquiries about the service-learning designation review or designation process, please contact Dr. Julianne Gassman at or 319-273-2204.

    Additional Resources

    These links contain great activities, information, and research that you can use with your students and/or may work well as you address the development of civic agency into courses.