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As the nation’s first public university to open its doors, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a long tradition of public service to the State of North Carolina. This tradition has evolved into a commitment to deeper engagement that involves mutually beneficial partnerships between the University and communities in North Carolina and beyond. For examples of such partnerships, read about some key takeaways from the 2020 Connect, Engage, Transform Conference hosted by CCPS.


Public Service

CCPS uses the term public service to describe the application of knowledge, skills and resources for the common good. We recognize that a wide variety of paid and unpaid work can fall under the description of public service.

Through the Buckley Public Service Scholars program, we encourage students to think about and participate in three different dimensions of service: direct service, policy-based service and organizational service.

  • Direct service could be described as hands-on activities that give some form of direct assistance to particular people or communities.
  • Policy-based service is less direct and focuses more on social systems and how communities or the larger society are organized.
  • Organizational service deals with activities that support the existence and administration of an organization that provides more direct or policy-based services.



Service-Learning is a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and development.

From Jacoby, B., & Associates (Eds.). (1996). Service-learning in higher education: Concepts and practices. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Engagement and Engaged Scholarship

Faculty “engagement” refers to scholarly, creative or pedagogical activities for the public good, directed toward persons and groups outside UNC-Chapel Hill. Such activities (in the form of research, teaching and/or service) develop as collaborative interactions that respond to short and long-term societal needs. Engagement serves people in our state, nation or the wider world through a continuum of academically informed activities. Although the spectrum of engaged scholarship and activities varies among disciplines, “engagement” is planned and carried out by University and community partners, and includes:

  • Engaged scholarship: Scholarly efforts to expand multifaceted intellectual endeavor with a commitment to public practices and public consequences.
  • Engaged activities: Artistic, critical, scientific and humanistic work that influences, enriches and improves the lives of people in the community.

From Report of the UNC Task Force on Future Promotion and Tenure Policies and Practices. (2009).