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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

What is Community Engagement

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Overview: What is Community Engagement?

Community engagement is a type of public participation that involves people in problem-solving or decision-making processes. It is a multifaceted, ongoing process.

The MSU, Mankato Community Engagement Office (CEO) strives to connect the talents, passions, and volunteer efforts of our students and other members of the MSU, Mankato community with our greater-Mankato community agencies and organizations, which are in need of volunteers to assist them with the accomplishment of their mission and goals for helping community members in need of assistance.  Our emphases are on upon social justice, building trust, outreach, connections between people and resources, the development of new leaders, and the integration of personal and professional goals.

Service-Learning is...

Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. (from Learn and Serve America's National Service-Learning Clearinghouse)

Community Engagement is...

"Community engagement describes the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.

The purpose of community engagement is the partnership of college and university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good."   -Carnegie Community Engagement Classification


Community engagement, through the merging of the academic-based and practicing members of communities, encompasses “groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in these areas by interacting on an on-going basis.”
—Wenger, McDermott and Snyder


We are designing engaging programs to capture students from the moment of first interaction with MSU, Mankato and greater-Mankato area community resources.  A community-engagement / service-learning fair is held near the beginning of each semester to acquaint our campus-volunteers with opportunities which exist for service within the various community agencies and organizations.  Other special community-engagement programs are being formulated combine the talents of academic students and professionals with the community agencies, organizations, and practicing professionals.

Developing true partnerships between professional educators, students and community professionals is essential to the community engagement program.  As Abraham Lincoln reminded us, “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”  

“One should never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead


We recognize that the key is not only what the student is doing, but also what the professional administrators/educators/staff members and their community-partner professionals are doing that will lead the students to engage in those activities and dialogues which will result in the desired outcomes.  “The ultimate expression of generosity is not in the giving of what you have, but in the giving of who you are.”
—Johnetta B. Cole