man painting wall of a community building

Community-engaged Courses

NIU’s mission is to empower students through educational excellence and experiential learning as we pursue knowledge, share our research and artistry, and engage communities for the benefit of the region, state, nation and world. Community engagement is at the heart of NIU.

Starting in spring 2025, undergraduate courses can be designated as community-engaged through an approval process managed by the Baccalaureate Council. Once implemented, students will be able to see community-engaged course designation in MyNIU and in the undergraduate catalog.  

Paths for Community-engaged (CE) Course Designation

A course can achieve designation at the section level or the course level. Once course-level designation is received, there is no need for section-level designation as all sections would have course-level designation.  

  • Section-level designation: Faculty will be able to apply to designate their course section as a community-engaged course through an online self-evaluation form, which will be available in summer 2024 for section-level designation for spring 2025 courses. The designation will appear in MyNIU for that semester only.  
  • Course-level designation: Faculty may apply through the new Curriculog curriculum proposal and approval process, set to launch in summer 2024. Course-level designation will require all instructors who teach a course to meet the criteria as a community-engaged course. It would remain designated in MyNIU until such time as the department requests to remove that designation. These courses will be evaluated on a three-year cycle so the CE designation can be removed if the course no longer adheres to the requirements.  

Designation Requirements 

To be designated, the course must include all course components, identify and assess student learning outcomes and comply with evaluation including student assessment and community partner feedback.  

Course Components

To be designated, courses must include the following four components: 

  • Evidence of working with a community partner (nonprofit organization, business, campus partner, government entity, etc.) 
  • Students are engaging with issues relevant to the community partner, integrating theory with practice. 
  • The engagement is intentional and has mutual benefit for the community partner and the students. 
  • Students use guided reflection to identify and explain their learning and growth as a result of the experience. 

Learning Outcomes

To be designated, the course must include at least one learning outcome in two of four Civically Engaged Learning Goals (knowledge, skills, disposition, participation) and the instructor must describe how each learning outcome will be assessed in the course. VALUE rubrics for each of the 10 learning outcomes are available from the American Association of Colleges and Universities.


When submitting a course for designation, the instructor will provide details about how assessment and feedback will be gathered from students and the community partner(s). Community partner feedback will be requested annually and reported to the Baccalaureate Council in an online form. Student assessment data would include the addition of a question(s) related on the learning outcome(s) chosen to the existing course evaluation.

Contact Us

Alicia Schatteman
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

Jeanie Sparacino
Office Manager

Ian Gawron
Curriculum Coordinator and Catalog Editor

International Student Scholar Services

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