EPIC Newsletter:
 November 2019

Welcome to this month’s EPIC Newsletter! This edition is dedicated to community-based or community-engaged learning and teaching. As a high impact practice—learning experiences that promote deep learning and high student engagement—community-based learning is also an inclusive teaching practice because it gives students opportunities to work collaboratively, practice and apply course learning objectives outside of the classroom, and do meaningful and impactful work in local communities where students may live or work.

We hope this issue is helpful for those who are thinking about or and already engaged in CBL practices. If you are thinking about teaching a service learning course, get started with UCLA’s own Center for Community Learning. As always, you can let us know what you think about the newsletter or send us suggestions for future features at
On behalf of the EPIC team, we are thankful to you for joining us this month and we hope you have a restful and bountiful Thanksgiving holiday!

Lisa Felipe
EPIC Program Director

Community-Engaged Learning: A Model for Promoting Learning Transfer, Authentic Engagement, and Undergraduate Research

Shalom Staub, Director of the UCLA Center for Community Learning
Community-engaged learning begins with the fundamental question, “How can I engage my students with course material even more deeply by putting them in a context outside of the classroom where the material will be real?” UCLA’s Center for Community Learning is directed by Shalom Staub and promotes transformative learning through programming, and by supporting community-engaged teaching and learning across the undergraduate experience at UCLA. The Center also provides direction and sets best practices for community-engaged pedagogy across UCLA by providing building blocks to integrate community engagement into courses and to establish “tags” for students to easily identify these learning opportunities in our Course Catalog.

UCLA’s community-engaged model comprises four tenets:
  1.  Reciprocity: To create value for the student learner and for the community partner
  2. Integration: To seamlessly blend the community-engaged dimension of the course with all other elements rather than to treat it as a value add
  3. Sustainability: Although the quarterly system is short, it’s important to sustain community-engaged work over several interactions rather than a single field trip or site visit
  4. Critical Reflection: To ensure learning transfer, students should be given opportunities (through writing, discussion section, etc.) to step outside of the experiential aspect of learning to reflect on how their engagement aligns with the course themes and theory
“Community-engaged learning is moving away from a service-learning model,” Shalom explained, and this move “allows for an experience focused less on direct service for a required number of hours to a more authentic model in which students co-learn in a flexible, expansive format.”

Tips and Insights from Shalom and the Center for Community Learning

Time and Value for Faculty Members
  • As a form of high-impact learning, community-engaged teaching takes time, which may create a perception of higher barrier to entry at research institutions where research commitments take a substantial portion of a faculty member’s time. Our Center for Community Learning is working to support the efforts of our Deans and Senior Faculty to include community-engaged scholarship within the framework of advancement. 
 Scale and Scope
  • While community-engaged learning works best (or more easily) with a smaller class size, it can be integrated into larger courses where a GSR or TAs can help to facilitate community partnerships, or where meta-courses can be divided to offer some honors sections that have an added community engagement component.
 Benefits to Students
  • Faculty who incorporate community-engaged learning report greater success with learning transfer and with introducing their undergraduates to the research process. Two recent examples of successful community-engaged projects include UCLA’s Prison Education Program and Erica Weaver’s (English Department) course on refugee stories, in which students addressed concerns about migration and immigration in an historical literary context while working with organizations on refugee initiatives.
 Opportunities Available to Faculty
  • The Center works with our Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT) to offer a community-engaged pedagogy workshop series, with events taking place each quarter. For the fall 2020 quarter’s listings, please visit this link.
  • UCLA also offers Chancellor’s Awards for Community-Engaged Scholars, which is a $10,000 award offered to a cohort of ladder faculty to adapt their own ongoing community-engaged research agenda to new undergraduate courses. For this year’s recipients, please visit this link.
Further Reading
  • Shalom recommends Research on Student Civic Outcomes in Service Learning (Hatcher et al., 2016) as a great read to introduce faculty to the benefits of community-based pedagogy in the Humanities undergraduate classroom.
Interested in offering a community-engaged course or learning more about community-engaged pedagogy? Please contact Shalom Staub ( or stop by the Center’s Main Office (A265 Murphy Hall, (310) 825-7867).
Author: Dr. Dana Milstein
Instructional Designer
EPIC Program

Community Learning: An Interview with Elizabeth Goodhue

Professors Willeke Wendrich (Near Eastern Languages and Cultures) and Elizabeth Goodhue (Center for the Advancement of Teaching) are the faculty co-leads for EPIC's upcoming Seminar in Teaching Excellence on  "Community Learning" this Spring. In the following interview with EPIC, Elizabeth Goodhue discusses her experiences with community learning and how community learning pedagogies can be a relevant and rewarding practice for humanities instructors from any discipline. 

How do you define community learning? 

I think of this as any time instructors and community organizations are collaborating to develop projects that students would work on, something that really gives them a chance to take what they're learning in class and the work that they're doing and connect that with tangible goals that the community partners have. That can take a lot of different forms. It can be students doing research projects that are benefitting the community organization, it can be direct service to support particular programs, it could be collaborating on creative work of some sort, and lots of other kinds of things too. But really at the core, it's about a partnership between instructors, community organizations, and the students. 

What are the pros and cons of using community learning pedagogies for instructors? 

The pros for faculty are certainly very connected to the pros for students as well. I think that when you're involving your students in applying their academic skills to specific real-world challenges, they're often more engaged in the learning process. They're often able to see how what they're learning connects to life outside of campus. There's research to suggest they may be able to take that and apply that long-term to their career exploration and things like that. I think that those benefits are obviously there for the students, but they're there for you as an instructor as well because your students are that much more engaged and able to understand why what they're learning is valuable not just to them, but to the larger world. That's one of the real benefits. It's also a way for instructors to be able to tap into their own personal committments and the things that they care about above and beyond whatever their field of specialization is. So this can be a way for you to contribute to the public good of higher education and tap into the issues and causes that you care about and connect that with your teaching as well. 

Some of the challenges, especially if instructors are new to this pedagogy or they never experienced community learning as a student, it can take some time to build relationships with community organizations that are meaningful and allow for that reciprocal benefit. It can take time to learn how to develop assignments and projects that will maximize the benefit for everyone. Instructors are often very familiar with developing the types of assignments they have always taught or experienced as a student. Community Learning provides us with an opportunity to rethink that. It's not just having students do more work, but different work. It's not necessarily more work for the instructor, maybe up front to develop it, but then it just becomes part of how you're teaching the class. 

Can you give an example of a memorable experience you have had teaching a community learning course? 

There's a couple of courses that I teach on a fairly regular basis. I teach a course on children's literature and childhood literacy where students learn in part how youth literature works by reading it with kids. That is really impactful for them and beneficial for students and it helps develop the education of all those different levels of students. But the students also do projects at the end of the course where they get to research and then design their own literacy curriculum or a library catalog. They can even write their own children's book and analyze that process. The students find that to be a really impactful project experience. It's also very nice for me to be able to see them follow that project through.  

I also teach a course on storytelling for social justice where they spend the entire quarter working in teams on projects with community partners. That's one of my favorite courses to teach because they design those projects from the ground up with the partner over the course of those ten weeks. They often end up building skills in project management and developing a work plan, and thinking about how they can apply their writing skills and their research skills to a public-facing project of some sort. They've developed digital maps and catalogs and things like that. Being able to watch my students develop into professionals in this field has been really rewarding for me as a teacher. [...] These projects take different formats depending on what the different organizations are interested in, but the students get a chance to follow that work through for a whole quarter. The substance of the class is, how do we tell stories to support social justice nonprofit work? So they learn some of the backbone of the rhetoric and skills and storytelling as it works in the nonprofit sector.  

There's lots of different ways people can do this type of teaching. There's also other great courses that I could point to in the humanities. There was an instructor last year [Erica Weaver] who taught a course on refugee literature from the medieval period all the way to contemporary, and her students were working with different nonprofit organizations that support refugees in Los Angeles. Then as a team, the students in the class all worked on a project where they help document and then publish the stories of refugee children who were working with one of these nonprofit organizations. It was really amazing. In just ten weeks the students learned a lot about refugees and the issues that face them; and about the literature and the storytelling about refugees, some of which is produced by those people, much of which is not produced by them, and the difference between those types of stories. And they got to be part of the process of documenting stories of kids whose stories might not have been captured without the support they were able to provide for the nonprofit organization.  

Willeke Wendrich is traveling right now for her research, but she has been doing tons of great community archaeology work that involves graduate students and others in partnerships with community members in Ethiopia to develop archaeological approaches that are rooted in that place and valuable to people whose heritage is being studied and preserved. 

What are your hopes or expectations for the Spring 2020 Community Learning STE? 

I think we're both hoping that people will be able to develop outlines for courses and assignments that are relevant to them in their fields and that they might be able to use in their future courses. But I think we're also hoping that people will be interested in collaborating with us to develop some tools that would help other instructors do this type of teaching. [...] I'd really like to see us develop a kind of bank of resources that could help people do things like connect community learning with language instruction, what are some of the common challenges and opportunities there? Or when it comes to writing instruction, how do you design good writing prompts that meet writing instruction goals for Composition or Writing II, but also potentially provide a tangible benefit for the community organizations that you're working with and teach those kinds of skills. 

It's something that I care about a lot, doing the kind of work that I do in professional development for faculty. And it helps make this work more real for people if you give them examples of what people have actually done, approaches that have worked, and if you can tap into what are some of the challenges or concerns people have and then help transform those into opportunities to grow and develop something that will really work. That makes people feel more empowered [...] and it feels a bit more accessible to them. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. People have been doing this in lots of different fields, in lots of different areas.
If you are interested in learning more about the community learning projects described above, check out the following resources:   
  • Professor Willeke Wendrich invites you to preview the as-yet unreleased film Community Archaeology in Ethiopia for a look at collaborative archaeological field work on site in the Tigray region of Ethiopa.      
  • Refugee Stories is a website and collaborative book project created by the undergraduates in Professor Erica Weaver's English 119 course "Refugee Literature Then and Now" in Spring 2019. 
  • This digital map showcasing 826LA's Young Authors' Book Project is an excellent example of community-engaged learning and was created by undergraduates in Professor Elizabeth Goodhue's "Storytelling for Social Justice" course.
If you are a graduate student interested in community learning, the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and the Center for Community Learning will be offering a teaching practicum course on community-engaged pedagogy in Winter 2020. This 495 seminar will be taught by Professor Elizabeth Goodhue. For more information, see the course description or email Elizabeth at with any questions. If you are interested in enrolling, please fill out this Google Form by 5pm on November 30.
Author: Alejandra Campoy
Graduate Student Researcher, EPIC Program
PhD Student, Comparative Literature 

Diana Librandi on Bringing Ancient Rome to LAUSD High School Students

Diana Librandi (doctoral student, Classics) and Elliot Piros (PhD, Classics) received EPIC’s Teaching Innovation Grant for a community-based learning program to make the Classics more accessible for high school students. They were directly inspired by a local high school’s request to give a presentation on digital models of Ancient Rome and tell stories about how marginalized groups including slaves and women utilized public spaces. Inspired by the high school students’ questions, Diana and Elliott applied for grant funding to develop a hands-on opportunity for LAUSD high school and community college learners to visit UCLA’s Rome Lab and experience “space for underrepresented communities.” The project became a meta-experience that enabled the leaders and participants to move beyond the Classics to discover new perspectives about “power dynamics, the social engineering of space, and an appreciation of different perceptions” that are transferable concerns for living in metropolitan Los Angeles in 2019.

Beyond the Rome Lab, learners were also invited to attend classes offered by Professors Adriana Vasquez and Sarah Beckman, which gave them an authentic glance into UCLA’s undergraduate experience and our broader learning community. Diana explained that campus-wide collaboration is a valuable and necessary approach to community-based learning; she attributes the project’s success to the
Rome Lab being directed by Professor Chris Johanson and a multidisciplinary team of researchers with the digital portal housed on South Campus, and to Professors Vasquez and Beckman for inviting students to participate meaningfully in their classrooms.
Author: Dr. Dana Milstein
Instructional Designer
EPIC Program

On Teaching and Learning: Resources Round Up

There are a TON of resources, scholarship, and advice for instructors out there! Here’s just some of what we have been reading and exploring this month on community-based learning.
The Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University provides a quick introduction to community engaged teaching.

* * * 

This article from the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship is a helpful primer—with a great lit review of foundational scholarship in the field—in the form of a checklist.
UCLA graduate students who are interested in community-engaged pedagogy can now take a 495 course, which is offered once every academic year. For more information, see the Center for Community Learning's website.

* * * 

For scholarship on community-based learning, service-learning, and community-engaged pedagogy and research, the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning is great first stop.
Author: Dr. Lisa Felipe
EPIC Program Director

Happy Thanksgiving!

This newsletter is edited by Alejandra Campoy and Tegan Artho-Bentz. 
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