For Students

What is academic civic engagement?

Academic Civic engagement (ACE) is an educational approach that encourages students to learn in community contexts. Students consider community-based experiences in relation to classroom learning and apply academic knowledge and skills to strengthen communities as an integrated component of an academic course.

Learn more about ACE from your fellow students (video created by Allyvia Garza, Solveig Hanes, Gabriel Marinho, and Christian Schlaefer as their ACE project in Sian Christie’s “Organizational Storytelling” course, Fall 2019).

Which courses have a civic engagement component?

What are the benefits of being engaged with the community through a class?

National research and studies of St. Olaf students show that benefits include greater self-awareness, increased self-efficacy, and increased ability to apply academic knowledge to achieve community goals.  Other benefits include becoming better able to communicate with a wider variety of people who are different from yourself, such as in age, culture, or socioeconomic status.   Each course with an integrated component of academic civic engagement is expected to address specific learning outcomes.

How does the community benefit?

The community benefits in myriad ways that depend on the project’s goals.  Project goals are determined by a combination of community needs and learning outcomes of the course.  Students have created valuable products such as marketing plans, grant proposals, statistical analyses, public art, and educational materials, to name a few.  Other examples of benefits to the community include service-related help such as tutoring, wellness improvement, and enrichment experiences.

Watch this video of students in Mary Carlsen’s directed undergraduate research ACE course, “Living and Dying: Explorations with Young Adults” from Spring 2019 about the work they did with Honoring Choices MN and the impact the course had on them:

How can I apply what I have learned in my ACE course(s)?

What are other ways I can gain experience within the community?