Aquinas College's commitment to Outreach and Engagement is rooted in its mission statement, which reflects the institution’s emphasis on career preparation, focus on leadership and service to others, and the College's continued commitment to Lifelong Learning to serve the common good.

The Office for Outreach and Engagement serves as the College’s primary liaison for cultivating faculty, student and staff engagement with the external community by: 

  • Facilitating and supporting college-wide efforts to create engaged activities for faculty, staff and students,
  • Advancing public access to college resources and academic expertise,
  • Advocating for engaged scholarship and community-based collaborations, and
  • Promoting the value of the College's liberal arts education through meaningful outreach, engagement, and service initiatives.


Defining Community Engagement

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 Elective Classification for Community Engagement)


Goals of Community Outreach and Engagement

  1. Promote Community Engagement
  2. Tell the AQ Community Engagement Story
  3. Support Community-Engaged Scholarship
  4. Provide Experiential Learning Opportunities
  5. Promote Public Access to Resources
  6. Local and Global Community Outreach
  7. Serve Community Needs and Interests


Understanding Community Engagement (key terms)

A group of people external to the campus who are affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, similar situation, or shared values. Communities may share characteristics such as age, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.

A sustained collaboration between institutions of higher education and communities for the mutually beneficial exchange, exploration, and application of knowledge, information, and resources. Examples are research, capacity building, project development and execution around shared goals like economic development, environmental conservation, or cultural vitality.

The application and provision of institutional resources, knowledge or services that directly benefits the community. Examples include artistic performances, workshops and speeches at rotary clubs or other community organizations.

Community-Engaged Teaching and Learning is a pedagogical approach that connects students and faculty with activities that address community -identified needs through mutually beneficial partnerships that deepen students' academic and civic learning. Examples are service-learning courses or service-learning clinical practicums.

While direct service is one important type of community engagement, Community-Engaged Learning is a broader, more inclusive term that reflects more ways that people engage with their communities. These strategies range from direct service to advocacy to research to philanthropy and more.

With Service Learning, faculty, students, and community partners tend to limit student engagement to direct service activities (e.g. tutoring youth, serving meals to the homeless, cleaning up a community garden). However, SL is much more than that, as it enhances the understanding of course content, and is tied to specific learning goals through consciously designed reflection. One of these learning goals is civic engagement, which is intended to enhance students' sense of personal responsibility to participate in the public realm to address current pressing social problems, and thus going beyond the academic or skill-based goals of the course. It develops a reciprocal relationship through which the experiential activities are planned and implemented through a collaboration with a community partner so that the coursework meets needs specifically identified by that partner.

Community-Engaged Scholarship is the creation and dissemination of knowledge and creative expression in furtherance of the mission and goals of the university and in collaboration with the community. CES addresses community needs through research, teaching, and service in a mutually beneficial partnership. The quality and impact of CES is determined by academic peers and community partners.

For more information on the scholarship and practice of engagement please visit the Engagement Scholarship Consortium.

Community-Engaged Research is a collaborative process between the researcher and community partner that creates and disseminates knowledge and creative expression with the goal of contributing to the discipline and strengthening the well-being of the community.

Community-Based Research takes place in community settings and involves community members in the design and implementation of research projects, demonstrates respect for the contributions of success that are made by community partners, and respects the principle of “doing no harm” to the communities involved.

Community-Engaged Service is the application of one's professional expertise that addresses a community -identified need and supports the goals and mission of the university and the community. Community-engaged service may entail the delivery of expertise, resources and services to the community.