College of Science and Health > Academics > School of Nursing > About > Community Engagement

Community Engagement
A student speaking with members of the community.

What is community-based service learning?

Community-based service learning (CbSL) is a dynamic, collaborative partnership between students, faculty, and community-based organizations that is embedded into the Master’s Entry to Nursing Practice (MENP) curriculum. In the CbSL model, you will be actively involved in meeting community health needs and providing a tangible product that is of value to a community-based nonprofit organization. You will apply academic learning to your community experience, and apply the hands-on, CbSL experience to your personal and academic development.

Service learning and the Vincentian Mission

The mission of DePaul University is based on the life, actions, and teachings of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac. CbSL is the academic bridge to the university's mission to serve those least served. Guided by this mission, you will collaborate with community organizations to build foundations for improving community health programs and population-focused health initiatives. 

​​​​​Community health in the curriculum
As a student in the Master’s Entry to Nursing Practice program​, you will complete a total of (112) CbSL hours spanning seven​ academic quarters. Understanding and appreciating health as a community focus, influenced by social and physical determinants, is an essential part of the nursing education at DePaul University. The importance of health promotion and maintenance is evident in the NCLEX-RN examination, accounting for 6-12% of all content.

Each student is paired with a community partner in your particular area of interest. The DePaul University School of Nursing, in conjunction with the Steans Center​, works with a wide variety of community nonprofit partners throughout the Chicagoland area. Starting in your first quarter, you’ll work directly with your community partner to identify a mutually beneficial service-learning project. Your work will start at a very basic level, engaging in simple tasks that allow you to get to know the organization from the inside. As you progress through your program, you will continue to serve at your partner organization, and as your relationship with the organization grows, you’ll have the opportunity to take on more advanced health initi​atives, including the potential for collaborative research.

Integrate community health into your research project
You will also have the opportunity to conduct a Community-based Research (CBR) project with your community partner and/or faculty advisor. The CBR project is developed in conjunction with the community partner, and focuses on providing a deliverable product. Students also have the option of continuing their community hours into a sixth quarter, as needed.​
​​​​​Development of the community engagement program
The community engagement program was developed by the DePaul University School of Nursing in conjunction with the DePaul University Steans Center for Community-based Service Learning​

Students progress through their curriculum with the community partner as the foundation and resource for their learning. The courses in which CbSL is embedded provide an increasingly deeper exposure, involvement, and analysis for the student, as well as greater benefits for the community organization.  As new students enter the program, they fold into the partnership, supporting the sustainability of projects and the relationship itself.​

Program goals
Our goals for the community engagement program are to:
  • Incorporate CbSL into the current Master’s Entry to Nursing Practice (MENP) curriculum creating sustainable community-campus partnerships and enhanced student learning outcomes guided by DePaul University’s Vincentian mission.
  • Enhance student understanding and appreciation of health as a community focus, influenced by social and physical determinants as described in Healthy People 2020. 
  • Collaborate with community partners to build foundations for community health programs/population focused health initiatives.  
  • Foster sustainable health initiatives and community-based research (CBR).​