Gustavus Earns Community Engagement Classification from Carnegie Foundation Posted on January 7th, 2015 by

Carnegie SealThe Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has selected Gustavus Adolphus College to receive its 2015 Community Engagement Classification. Gustavus is now one of 361 campuses out of 4,634 eligible institutions of higher education in the country that have the designation.

The classification is an elective, voluntary distinction involving data collection and documentation of important aspects of institutional mission, identity, and commitments. According to the Carnegie Foundation, community engagement describes 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 is a significant distinction that we will celebrate as a campus-wide achievement,” said Gustavus President Rebecca Bergman. “Gustavus is a mission-driven organization that prepares students for fulfilling lives of leadership and service to society. Being honored on a national level by an organization as prestigious as the Carnegie Foundation affirms the strong alignment that Gustavus has between community engagement and its institutional mission, core values, commitments, and practices.”

The Foundation announced Wednesday that 83 institutions have received the classification for the first time. Gustavus is one of 17 private baccalaureate colleges to receive the classification for the first time during this year’s selection process and one of 10 institutions in the state of Minnesota that now holds the classification.

Central to the College’s dedication to community engagement is the Office of Community-Based Service and Learning (CBSL), which is dedicated to engaging students, faculty, and community in mutually beneficial relationships based in partnership and reciprocity. More than 75 percent of Gustavus students participate annually in community service. The CBSL also supports nine local, on-going, student-led service programs that allow Gustavus students to work in partnership with more than 15 community-based organizations to address needs in areas such as youth development, affordable housing, adult outreach, healthy living/lifestyles, academic achievement, intercultural understanding, and animal rights and advocacy. One of those programs is the Big Partner Little Partner program, which pairs a Gustavus student with a child from the community who will benefit from building a friendship with a Gustie. The program recently celebrated its 50-year anniversary.

In addition, Gustavus successfully integrates community engagement in its academic curriculum. During the 2012-13 academic year, 1,192 Gustavus students (48.6%) enrolled in one of 71 community-based learning courses that were offered in 18 different academic departments by 35 different faculty members. One example is the nationally recognized Public Discourse class in the Communication Studies Department. Students in the course are asked to identify a problem in the community, research it fully, examine ways to address the problem, and ultimately take action in the community.

Another example of the College’s dedication to community engagement is the Nobel Conference, which for 50 years has brought Nobel laureates and other world renowned scientists to Southern Minnesota to discuss deep questions at the intersection of science and society in front of an audience of more than 5,000 people annually.

“The Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement classification is a sign that Gustavus possesses both excellence and expertise in community-engaged teaching, service, and scholarship, as well as community outreach and partnerships,” said Jeffrey Rathlef, Director for Community-Based Service and Learning and Associate Director of the Center for Servant Leadership. “Due to the extensive nature of the selection criteria, and the representation of diverse campus and community-wide contributions and partnerships, receiving this classification is a significant honor for the Gustavus community and its partners.”

Gustavus will hold the Community Engagement classification for 10 years and will need to apply for re-classification in 2025.

About the Carnegie Foundation

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is committed to developing networks of ideas, individuals, and institutions to advance teaching and learning. It joins together scholars, practitioners, and designers in new ways to solve problems of educational practice. Toward this end, the Foundation works to integrate the discipline of improvement science into education with the goal of building the field’s capacity to improve.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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