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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 strong record of public service to its own state distinguishes Carolina from many other major public research universities. The tradition of service for the common good has evolved into a commitment to deeper engagement that involves mutually beneficial partnerships between the University and communities in North Carolina and beyond.

Engagement and Engaged Scholarship

Faculty “engagement” refers to scholarly, creative or pedagogical activities for the public good, directed toward persons and groups outside the University of North Carolina at 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)


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.