Definitions and Concepts

Community Service (CS)

CS means any unremunerated service that is performed for the benefit of the public, its institutions, or for non-profit organizations by academic staff and students of higher education institutions. Essentially it entails services being taken out from the usual and mainstream institutional settings and provided in local community settings. CS does not necessarily mean volunteering, since it is not always performed on a voluntary basis.  Universities, may be involved in CS for a variety of reasons, (as a citizenship requirement to help communities that need urgent health services in times of epidemics, for protecting the environment such as afforestation, terracing, etc.)

Community services are often mandated by universities to meet the requirements, such as in the case of service-learning or to meet the requirements of graduation or to meet the requirement of academic promotion by staff members. They draw on partnerships and networks with other service providers to deliver and promote research findings in local communities, make better the community way of life, aware the community on how to best utilize the resources available. CS can be employed to raise the awareness of the local community on the services of the university can provide to the society. It may include training community or community leaders, intervention on selected social services/problems, demonstration of best practices, and popularization of best practices.

Community engagement (CE)

CE is defined as 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. This generally entails applying institutional resources (e.g., knowledge and expertise of students, staff, political position, buildings, land, crop varieties, animal breeds, etc.) to address and solve challenges facing communities through collaboration with these communities.

The methods for CE include community service, service-learning, community-based participatory research, training and technical assistance, capacity-building, and economic development. Thus, CS can be viewed as a way to engage community and deliver services in local settings and environments. 

Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR)

CBPR is a collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings, and does research to solve the problems the community has faced.