Carnegie Foundation Renews Appalachian’s Community Engagement Classification

We are excited to announce that Appalachian State University has retained its community engagement classification by the Carnegie Foundation first awarded to the university in 2008. The designation is valid until 2025. Appalachian is one of 361 institutions across the U.S. including 11 other UNC system schools that holds the community engagement classification. The elective classification followed an eight-month self-assessment and review of materials submitted by a working group comprised of campus and community stakeholders.


The Civic Engagement Program at Appalachian State University promotes and supports faculty, staff, and student activity designed to enhance learning and research conducted in partnership with communities in the High Country.

Civic Engagement

Civic engagement means "working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes" (Thomas Ehrlich). Civic engagement encompasses actions wherein individuals participate in activities of personal and public concern that are both individually life enriching and socially beneficial to the community. As with any community-based learning, the participation and leadership of the community is paramount.

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Service-Learning is a course-based or competency-based, credit-bearing educational experience in which students (a) participate in mutually identified service activities that benefit the community, and (b) reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of personal values and civic responsibility (Bringle, Clayton, and Hatcher, 2012).

Community-Based Research

Community-Based Research is conducted as an equal partnership between traditionally trained "experts" and members of a community. CBR projects start with the community and they are invited to fully participate in all aspects of the research process. CBR encourages collaboration of partners from any area of expertise, provided that the researcher(s) provide expertise that is seen as useful to the investigation by the community, and be fully committed to a partnership of equals and producing outcomes usable to the community.  It is important to note that CBR differs from traditional research in many ways; one of the principal ways in which it differs is that instead of creating knowledge for the advancement of a field or for knowledge's sake, CBR is an iterative process, incorporating research, reflection, and action in a cyclical process.

Service-Based Internships

Service-based internships are similar to traditional internships in that these experiences are more intense than typical service-learning courses, with students working as many as 30 hours a week in a community setting. As with traditional internships, students are generally challenged with producing a body of work that is of value to the community or site. However, unlike traditional internships, service-based internships have regular and ongoing reflective opportunities that help students analyze their new experiences using discipline-based theories. These reflective opportunities can be done in small group settings, with one-on-one meetings with faculty advisors, or even electronically with a faculty member providing feedback. Service-based internships are further distinguished from traditional internships by their focus on reciprocity--the idea that the community and the student benefit equally from the experience.

Engaged Scholarship

While community-based research is research conducted in partnership with community members, engaged scholarship is a broader term signifying a combination of the elements of scholarship with the principles of engagement (McLean, Specht, and Bond-Maupin).  Engaged scholarship "is defined by the collaboration between academics and individuals outside the academy - knowledge professionals and the lay public (local, regional/state, national, global) - for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. The scholarship of engagement includes explicitly democratic dimensions of encouraging the participation of non-academics in ways that enhance and broaden engagement and deliberation about major social issues inside and outside the university. It seeks to facilitate a more active and engaged democracy by bringing affected publics into problem-solving work in ways that advance the public good with and not merely for the public" (NERCHE).  It involves:

  • Articulation of goals in collaboration based on common interest/concern and consistent with mission of all organizations;
  • Application of (inter)disciplinary methodological expertise and theory combined with practical expertise and theory application/development;
  • Documentation and presentation to external and disciplinary audiences;
  • Establishment of significance and value to external audiences and disciplinary audiences;
  • Innovation in policy/practice impacting common concern and contribution to disciplinary base of knowledge/intellectual history (McLean, Specht, and Bond-Maupin).