Community Engaged Learning

Community Engaged Learning (CEL) at Utrecht University enriches and strengthens classical university-based teaching, through direct dialogue with society. In CEL, a community of shared concerns, consisting of students, teachers and social partners, raises hard questions about societal issues, large and small, and seeks creative solutions through sustained contact and reciprocal commitment to each other. This form of shared exploration and mutual learning is a means to a larger end: connecting university and society in a long-term relationship.

Learning together about societal challenges

Research, teaching and learning cannot exclusively be defined or conducted within the confines of the university, but must also find fruition in direct dialogue with society. Therefore, Community Engaged Learning is based on reciprocal relationships between students, teachers and social partners, with each learning from the other. For students, CEL offers the possibility to reflect upon hands-on experience but above all a formative experience about how they might in the future engage with society. For teachers, it is an opportunity to learn from new partners and to conceive new ways of teaching and researching. For community leaders it is a chance to gain new insights and approaches to the problems they face - and to teach others about the issues of shared concern.

Students approach the issue in a different way, giving you the best of both worlds.

Sarah Vredeveld
Project Manager Municipality of Nieuwegein

Add value by reciprocity

Important about Community Engaged Learning is the focus on cooperation with external partners and learning from each other. James Kennedy, chair of the programme committee: "It is crucial that this process is reciprocal. That creates the learning experiences for both students and our partners, and thereby we decrease the gap between the university and society."

Community Engaged Learning experiences

Read more about how our students, teachers and societal partners experienced working together on societal challenges.

Want to know more?

Research on Community Engaged Learning

James Kennedy has been appointed as distinguished university professor in the field of CEL. Read more about his research and vision in his inaugural lecture ‘Back to the Sixties? Community Engaged Learning and the Future of the University’.

More information?

On the UU-intranet teachers can find tools and support options for developing CEL education.

Information for teachers (log in via intranet)

Want to know more?

Have a look at the inspiration booklet or contact the Centre for Academic Teaching and Learning via


For general questions about Community Engaged Learning, please contact Kim Zunderdorp (programme manager) and Roos van Lin (programme secretary).

In addition, each faculty and college of Utrecht University has an ambassador who coordinates the developments around Community Engaged Learning: