Academic Civic Engagement

Global perspectives start local

We ask: What can Oles do to make a positive impact in our community?
Then we see it through, using what we're learning in the classroom to devise and implement real-world solutions.

Students take an ACE course each year


Of students take an ACE course by the time they graduate


Community partners engage in ACE courses each year

Academic civic engagement (ACE) is a high-impact educational practice through a for-credit course or mentored public scholarship that enables students to apply academic knowledge and skills within a real-world context to address community issues and build the civic identity of all participants (students, faculty, community partners).

ACE has three key attributes: intentional experiences with identified and measurable outcomes and the reciprocal exchange of knowledge and resources between all participants (students, faculty, and community partners); critical reflection on personal outcomes, community outcomes, and civic identity; and impact assessment of all participants. 

Often referred to as community-based researchservice-learningcommunity-based learning, community-engaged learning, and public scholarship, ACE facilitates the development of skills, habits of mind, and relationships that prepare students for future internship, research, civic leadership, and work roles.

Community partners are integral to the ACE experience. St. Olaf believes in the importance and impact of maintaining connections with local communities. Over the past years, the ACE office has collaborated with a diverse set of community partners in many industries, whether it be local or global. Community partners have benefited from ACE experiences in many different ways, including gaining insights into research and theories, working with passionate college students, and getting much-needed support for their organizations from St. Olaf students.

For more on the value of academic civic engagement to students, read this article from the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

This program is funded by the David L. and Margery Ostrom Scheie Endowment.