Program Types

Community' engagement is implemented through a variety' of programs and initiatives across institutions. Christianity’s ethos transcends the intellectual realm and encourages practice and exercises related to moral action, humility, and hospitality (Bcnne, 2001). Because of these commitments, the religious traditions of Catholicism and evangelical Christianity charge believers with acting in service to others—embodying their faith tradition and their call from God to strive toward a common good. Many institutions of Christian higher education, grounded in a heritage and mission of developing students as educated, thoughtful, and active citizens who engage the world through a Christian lens, have emphasized community engagement as a central component of campus life that is vital to the overall college experience. Despite an array of engaged methods that vary in resources, stakeholders, approaches, and duration, community engagement efforts can typically be categorized in three different ways: co-curricular, curricular, and degrees (Welch, 2016).


Co-curricular programming is typically a voluntary engagement opportunity' with no credit-bearing options for participants. These programs offer students community-based experiences for little to no cost, but also tend to provide little to no financial support for participation. The benefit for participation is typically personal development in the civic, moral, and identity' realms. These programs arc not to be confused with traditional undergraduate extracurricular activities, as they do incorporate standards and supervisory structures and often require the completion of formalized assignments such as written and oral reflections, journaling, and creative/ arts-based activities for students to reflect on their experience.

The benefits of participating in co-curricular community engagement programming have long been researched. Generally, participation in this type of programming results in individual identity development, moral development, and the cultivation of a civic identity/responsibility and well-being as it relates to personal growth and life satisfaction (Bowman ct al., 2010; Recb et al., 1998; Youniss & Yates, 1997). Examples of co-curricular experiences include alternative break programs, federal or institutionally funded service cohorts, such as AmeriCorps and Bonner Scholars, and volunteer service programs, such as days of service.

One example of co-curricular community engagement programming in the evangelical Christian context is Cedarville University’s Global Outreach Trips. These Spring Break Mission Trips offer local and global opportunities for Cedarville students to provide direct service alongside community' members while reflecting on their faith identity formation, public and social problems, and their position as a change agent (Cedarville University, n.d.). Another example of co-curricular community' engagement at a CCCU member institution is Lee University’s Deke Day, named after the Greek word SiaKoveo) which means to serve (Lee University, n.d.). Deke Day' is a day of service that mobilizes hundreds of first-year students to interact with elderly individuals residing in both carebased facilities and retirement communities to understand their “biblical mandate for service” (Lee University, n.d., para. 2), and to build community' among their peers (Dirksen, 2020).

Boston College’s First-Year Service Program is a unique example of co-curricular community engagement programming in the Catholic context. This program provides a transitional opportunity for new students looking to familiarize themselves with the Boston College mission of “being men and women for others” (Boston College, n.d., para. 1) by engaging in weekly service and reflection with a cohort of like-minded first-year students. Another example in the Catholic context is Saint Louis University’s Campus Kitchen initiative, which affords Saint Louis students the opportunity to prepare and collect food donations to deliver to individuals in need throughout the local community (Saint Louis University, n.d.; Sokol, Sweetman, Wassel, Franco, & Huffman, 2020).

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