Community Engagement in its various forms is meant to bridge classroom learning with experiential learning when students engage the community beyond the university. The benefits are numerous, but the basic idea is to engage students by involving them in significant learning experiences that help them apply and connect knowledge from their courses to their community. Students are encouraged to thoughtfully reflect on their experiences in order to help make these connections. D. Lee Fink describes a service learning course taught by Dr Jose Calderon at Pitzer College. "Calederon clearly puts a major emphasis on helping students learn about he human dimensions of multicultural society. He wants students to better understand themselves and the values and limitations of their own experiences that have resulted from particular social processes and to develop a deeper understanding of of people who live in social situations very from their own."
The Office of Community Engagement is a wonderful place to start. They have a great deal of information and resources that will assist faculty that want to incorporate programs such as service learning into their curriculum. While it can seem daunting, the Office of Community Engagement can help faculty and make getting started managable.
The Officice of Community Engagement has a page for Faculty Engagement that has information about scholarship and resources around engagement
Visit Civic Engagement Faculty Resources for CSUSM faculty including a FAQ and database of civic engagement sites
Benefits of service learning from University of Minnesota