The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) engages the university and community in creating a just and civil society where every member functions as an agent of social change.
California State University Long Beach (CSULB) has a long-standing commitment to service evidenced by the level of institutional support provided to community engagement and reflected in our mission and strategic priorities/goals. CSULB formally embraced community service learning in 1998, creating the Community Service Learning Center—now the Center for Community Engagement (CCE). The CSU system provides $45,000 annually and CSULB commits 3 FTE positions for the CCE and 1 FTE position in the College of Education to administer the Federal Work Study America Reads/Counts program and Service Experiences for Revitalizing Education.
CSULB is “a diverse, student-centered, globally-engaged public university committed to providing highly-valued undergraduate and graduate educational opportunities through superior teaching, research, creative activity and service for the people of California and the world.” Other formal statements flesh out our mission, describing a commitment to develop “responsible citizens” who are prepared for “responsible civic participation.” We strive that students “graduate as skilled problem-solvers and practitioners of their disciplines through participation in research projects, creative endeavors, community service learning, and internships” and that “faculty, staff, and students are intensely involved in community service and partnerships with community agencies and non-profits, schools, and local government agencies.” In our Strategic Priorities service learning is a pedagogical means toward academic quality. We have a Strategic Goal to “expand synergistic, sustainable partnerships with the local community, linking campus expertise and local community issues.”
In 2008, the university was selected for the Community Engagement Classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, recognizing the campus as among the best in the nation in finding ways to engage with and contribute to local communities. Student Life and Development hosts Make a Difference Day and supports 21 student service organizations such as American Red Cross at CSULB, CSULB Clothesline Project, Engineers without Borders, Habitat for Humanity and Up 'Til Dawn. The Career Development Center supports JusticeCorps, an AmeriCorps program with the LA County Courts involving 17 CSULB students. Beta Alpha Psi and Accounting Society runs the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Staff Council supports the American Cancer Society and local needy children through drives, fundraisers and Relay for Life. We host over 1,000 athletes at the Special Olympics SoCal Summer Games.
Academically, we have a well-developed service-learning program (Over 100 courses every year) and degree programs with community engagement at their core such as the new MA in Applied Sociology with a concentration in Community Development and Social Change. The CCE is currently involved in three long-term, (multi-million dollar) placed-based initiatives focused on civic engagement, community building, and healthy communities in partnership with the California Community Foundation, and The California Endowment, working with hundreds of community based organizations, thousands of residents, faculty and CSULB students in ten surrounding communities.
The driving forces behind our commitment to service are complex and long-standing. The City of Long Beach is second in size only to the City of Los Angeles within L.A. County. It’s a city of great socio-economic, ethnic, and language diversity. We have a history of successful partnerships, as demonstrated by our K-16 partnership between Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach City College, and CSULB. Many of our faculty, students and staff have deep roots in the community, and all of these, along with administration that recognizes and values the role of the university in the community, provide the means and the opportunity for CSULB to develop into a truly engaged campus.
The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) represents an expansion of the former Community Service Learning Center (CSLC), which was established in 1998 as a special project of the Center for Faculty Development to institutionalize Service Learning at CSULB. In the past three years the CCE has brought in over half a million dollars in grant funding to support community engagement.
The Center for Community Engagement enriches the educational experiences of students by:
A teaching approach utilizing experiential learning to connect theory and practice.
Service learning (SL) integrates and enhances both community services and academic instruction, engages students in responsible and challenging community service, and emphasizes active learning in different environments. SL is an opportunity for community groups, organizations and agencies to develop reciprocal partnerships with faculty, staff and students to address significant community issues. In the process, students begin to develop an ethic and spirit of service and civic engagement.
Students participate in SL as a fundamental part of an academic course, which places an equal value upon students' integrative learning and upon service that addresses significant community-identified needs. Students tie their SL experiences together with classroom learning through guided critical reflection.
Action-oriented research, which involves the community in all aspects of the research process, acknowledges both community assets and deficits, and results in measurable community impact.
The CCE provides various resources to support the development and implementation of community-based participatory research (CBPR). Recognizing the complex nature of issues facing the community, the CCE seeks to brings community resources together with faculty and campus resources across disciplines. The CCE utilizes CBPR strategies through new and existing networks and partnerships. The goal is to conduct research with the community that is both sustainable and transformational rather than simply on the community. Such research should make significant contributions to the community as well as to a discipline or to interdisciplinary studies.
Collaboration between CSULB and local, regional, national and global communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.*
The CCE is a member of a growing national community that values community engagement as an academically effective and socially beneficial cornerstone of education. Engagement initiatives are founded on the principle of developing projects, programs and activities that are transformational, sustainable, multi-stakeholder processes.
The broad range of current and potential community engagement initiatives are designed to leverage CSULB and community resources to address the needs and priorities of both the community and university.
*Based upon the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning's definition of community engagement.