University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Service Learning


Service learning takes place both in the classroom and in community-based settings giving you the chance to connect your academic passions with community engagement and work towards equity and social justice. Through Civic Engagement & Service-Learning (CESL), you can choose to pursue a single course (one semester), a program (several consecutive semesters), or the Certificate in Civic Engagement and Public Service (6 courses and capstone project).

To learn more and explore the Community Engagement & Service-Learning Programs, contact the CESL Academic Advisor at






Any students

1 semester

Single 4-credit course (DU & SB) with Service-Learning (SL) component


First-year students

2 consecutive semesters

RAP; 4-credit (Fall) & 3-credit (Spring) courses with SL component

The Boltwood ProjectTM

Any students

1 semester (repeatable); varied leadership opportunities as additional semester(s)

Single 2-credit course; Boltwood leaders and/or supervisors take 4-credit classes

Big Brothers Big Sisters

Ideally second- or third-year students; mature/experienced first year students

3 consecutive semester mentoring commitment

4-credit class (DU & SB) your first semester as a mentor; option to continue coursework via practica

Community Scholars Program

Second- or third-year students

4 consecutive semesters

Four 4-credit classes designed to build upon one another in sequence; develop deep relationships w/ cohort of peers & a community partner

Certificate in Civic Engagement & Public Service

The sooner the better

6 courses (all the above core programs contribute towards the certificate plus a variety of other courses)

6 courses plus a capstone project; 2 SL courses; 1 Foundations course; 5 content areas


SRVCLRNG 293 Learning Through Community Engagement: What constitutes meaningful, effective, and justice-oriented community service? This course provides an introduction to service-learning and includes weekly engagement with a local organization so that students can synthesize course material with hands-on experience in the community. With an emphasis on self-reflection, empathy, and critical service-learning, students work with existing community assets to address social issues of inequality, injustice, and anti-democratic structures. Fulfills DU and SB gen. ed. requirements. 

SRVCLRNG 499C/D Community Action for Social Change: This two-semester, honors thesis seminar is designed for upper division Commonwealth Honors College students with current experience in service-learning and/or community engagement who wish to deepen their praxis – the combination of theory and practice – as regards their chosen area of community work. Throughout the Fall and Spring semesters, students work both in the classroom and with a selected community partner to develop a collaborative civic/community engagement project that is presented through a portfolio format.

The Certificate in Civic Engagement and Public Service provides students with an interdisciplinary space to connect their academic work to outside-the-classroom community engagement. Students are encouraged to develop knowledge about social issues and community/political organizing in order to concretely work for equity and justice with local organizations.