Office of Community-Based Learning

What is Community-Based Learning (CBL)?

Community-Based Learning is when students perform service-learning projects or conduct community-based research that not only benefits local needs but is designed collaboratively between community-based organizations and campus faculty and students.  

Projects emanate from community needs and community knowledge. However, coursework such as readings, lectures, and discussions help frame and inform students' understandings of the root causes of such community needs. Thus, action in communities leads to reflection, but class work guides reflection, leading to analysis and strategies for change.

Intellectual and practical engagement leads back to critically informed conversations with community partners. As students and faculty share analyses and strategies with community organizations, the production of knowledge and action becomes democratically constructed. By working together, participants strive to develop an understanding of the world as it is, envision a world that could be, and design the strategies and actions that might bring such a world into fruition. CBL at its best provides teaching, learning and partnerships inspired by the possibility of social justice.

What is a Community-Based Learning Course?

A CBL Course is a regular classroom course with additional hours creating and implementing projects or conducting research in partnership with a local community organization. At Stonehill, there are several CBL courses for students to choose from, spanning many different academic departments and disciplines.

There are also Learning Community CBL Courses, where students take prerequisite courses and then exercise academic skills in a new course that helps them understand the material in an action-based setting. The learning projects are designed by faculty in collaboration with community to enhance the social impact of the work.