Service-learning has roots in the writings of American philosopher John Dewey and Brazilian educator Paulo Freire. Dewey argued that education was less about accumulating knowledge and more about developing student judgment, a skill necessary for participatory democracy. Freire believed education was a process of empowerment, where the teacher-learner relationship is reciprocal; educators are also learners and students are also teachers. Service-learning is a very powerful tool in higher education because it links the academic with the practical, empowering students to become active citizens and teaching them about the vital role they play in their communities. It connects higher education to the wider community and prepares students to meet society’s urgent needs.
What is Campus Compact?
“I consider Campus Compact to be one of the most enlightened and farsighted ventures that American colleges and universities have undertaken in recent years. It provides evidence that there are, in the world of higher education, people more than willing to pitch in, people of vision and commitment.” John Gardner, former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and Former President of the Carnegie Corporation (What people are saying about Campus Compact).
Campus Compact is an alliance of more than 1,100 college and university presidents who are committed to integrating community service and academics. It provides valuable support for service-learning to students, faculty, and staff through a variety of resources and programs that include syllabi, program development tools, a calendar of service events, scholarships and other student incentives, conferences, and an annual publication of civic engagement statistics. Campus Compact is the largest organization dedicated to civic engagement and higher education in the United States.
Mission and Vision
Campus Compact mission is to advance the public purpose of colleges and universities by deepening their ability to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility. It envisions institutions of higher education as essential agents of a diverse democracy, committed to educating students to be responsible citizens in ways that both deepen their education and improve the quality of community life (Who We Are).
Campus Compact was a response to the mid-1980s media portrayal of the youth as greedy, selfish, and disengaged from community service. In 1985 the presidents of Brown, Stanford, and Georgetown University and the president of the Educational Commission of the States joined efforts and created Campus Compact. They believed that the image the media depicted was false because many students were already involved in community service and many more would join if provided with the right tools, encouragement, and supporting structures (Who We Are).
Here and Now
Today thirty-four state affiliates and one national office in Boston support the work of over 1,100 member colleges. Campus Compact has a wide variety of initiatives and resources that assist students, faculty, and staff in understanding and fostering the interception between academics and community service. One of their most popular resources is a database of syllabi from every discipline that incorporates extra-curricular activities. The idea is that the more students leave campus, the more they will be able to have a wider perspective and become well-rounded citizens. Another useful resource published by Campus Compact is ‘Making College Happen’. This guide aims to increase the number and diversity of entering students, especially first-generation and minority students. Meanwhile, Campus Compact’s ‘Connect2Complete’ (C2C) is a program that uses peer mentoring and service-learning to support the most vulnerable students in achieving academic success and civic engagement.
Another very valuable Campus Compact resource is ‘Creating a Culture of Assessment’. It is an annual survey that measures campus-based civic engagement across Campus Compact’s members. It offers insight into how campuses can make the most of the survey’s processes and results to guide their own work.
“I know of no other educational organization that has a track record like Campus Compact’s over the past 20 years. It is a phenomenal success, not just in terms of growth in numbers, but in terms of the impact it’s had on communities, on campuses, and on individual lives.” Frank Rhodes, Former President of Cornell University (What people are saying about Campus Compact).
Campus Compact accomplishments are numerous and wide-ranging; they tell a story of continuing growth in support structures for campus engagement, leading to notable levels of engagement with students, faculty, and community partners. For instance, 98% of Campus Compact member campuses have at least one community partnership and 9 out of 10 include service or civic engagement in their mission statements.
In 2012, campuses offered an average of 66 service-learning courses per campus (64 in 2010), 68% of campuses rewarded faculty for service-learning and community-based research (42% in 2008 and 64% in 2010), and 62% required service-learning as part of the core curriculum of at least one major (51% in 2010).
Campus Compact also assists its alumni. Support for alumni entering public service includes informational programs on public service careers, offered by 83% of campuses (41% in 2010), networking channels, offered by 58% (23% in 2010), and student loan deferment or forgiveness, offered by 17% and 14% of campuses, respectively (9% and 6% in 2010).
Student participation in service continues to increase at Campus Compact member colleges and universities even as the Corporation for National and Community Service and other federal sources report an overall decline. Campus Compact’s increase demonstrates that community service mechanisms produce a deep commitment to civic engagement by the students. During the 2011-2012 academic year, 44% of students at Campus Compact campuses participated in community engagement activities contributing an estimated $9.7 billion in service to their communities (2012 Annual Member Survey).
Community and civic engagement centers play a major role in increasing student’s extra-curricular involvement. 96% of Campus Compact member campuses have at least one center devoted to community and civic engagement, and more than 60% have more than one center. On average, 20 staff members play some role in supporting service and/or civic engagement efforts, and 11 staff members provide support for service-learning (2012 Annual Member Survey).
Looking to the Future
Campus Compacts future seems very bright. In the next three years, it pledges to push the field of civic engagement forward by facilitating conversations with people and organizations that are leading the field. It also pledges to continue to be a vital source of tools and resources for carrying out civic engagement work, and increase funding for the field of civic engagement. In order to accomplish this, Campus Compact will focus on establishing meaningful and reciprocal community partnerships, improving college access and retention, enhancing college readiness in K-12 education, and better preparing college students for their careers and society (Strategic Plan 2014 and Beyond).
2012 Annual Member Survey. (2013, March 1). Retrieved from http://www.compact.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Campus-Compact-2012-Statistics.pdf
Campus_Compact. (2013, January 31). The C2C Faculty Fellows Institute ended yesterday in Clearwater, FL. The Fellows posed for a group shot before leaving http://ow.ly/i/1rW1L [Twitter Post]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Campus_Compact/status/297011709137272832
Campus_Compact. (2014, July 14). Hope everyone is having a good time! RT @cariehertzberg: @Campus_Compact national mtg. @RICampusCompact [Twitter Post]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Campus_Compact/status/488788442298744832
Campus Compact. (2014, June 10). Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/CampusCompact/photos/pb.300855542397.-2207520000.1418682304./10152462332882398/?type=1&theater
Inver Hills CC [InverHillsCC]. (2014, October 30). Story on MN Campus Compact blog: “Deepening Engagement in a Sustained Partnership”
http://mncampuscompact.org/blog/2014/10/29/deepening-engagement-in-a-sustained-partnership/ …pic.twitter.com/PkUDzscTwH [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/InverHillsCC/status/527850148794081280
Strategic Plan 2014 and Beyond. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.compact.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Campus-Compact-Strategic-Plan-Executive-Summary-1.15.14.pdf
What people are saying about Campus Compact. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.compact.org/membership/what-people-are-saying-about-campus-compact/
Who We Are. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.compact.org/about/history-mission-vision/