Applied Learning

English faculty member Michelle Britt and students prepare for environmental cleanup activity.

Service Learning

Civic engagement provides UNCW students with a learning laboratory where they can apply theory in practice through service to others. North Carolina Campus Compact defines three approaches students can use to civically engage:

  • Service-Learning: community engagement that occurs as part of a credit-bearing academic course; a service-learning course includes academic theory, community service, critical reflection, and evaluation/assessment
  • Community Service: hands-on community engagement done outside of coursework
  • Philanthropy: raising and donating money or collecting and donating items for a community population or organization

UNCW is known for its commitment to civic engagement, in all forms, which is signified by the university's continuous acknowledgment as a member of the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and evidenced by its use of various resources (Office of Student Leadership and Engagement and Chancellor's Council on Outreach).

Service-learning at UNCW occurs in various academic programs, schools, and colleges. Typically, faculty decide if they want to incorporate service-learning into their course(s). The Office of Student Leadership and Engagement can serve as a liaison to faculty who are interested in locating a nonprofit organization or agency to partner with for service-learning courses. Given there is no single clearinghouse for service-learning on campus, students interested in these types of courses should first seek information from their academic advisors or academic programs in order to find service-learning opportunities.

Community service and philanthropy also happen in myriad ways on campus. The Office of Student Leadership and Engagement coordinates ongoing and signature community service opportunities for students. These programs allow students to give their time, talents and resources to numerous issues and charities (youth, elderly, hunger, poverty, etc.) and make an impact on Southeastern North Carolina. Additionally, the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement creates options for students to civically engage during fall and spring breaks through community service trips to local and regional locations. The Office of Student Leadership and Engagement can be contacted at 910-962-3877 or online at

Student involvement in UNCW organizations, fraternities and sororities, and residence hall governance provides UNCW students with additional opportunities to participate in community service and philanthropic efforts. Information on these student groups can be obtained from the Campus Activities and Involvement Center, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, and the Department of Housing and Residence Life.