Community Service Learning

Utrecht University stands for broad and interdisciplinary education. Students at Utrecht University learn to look beyond the boundaries of their fields of study and work together in interdisciplinary projects. The education programmes are modern and innovative. Students and high-ranking scientists work together on a better future.

Naturally, the university brings this mission and the education objectives to life in myriad ways. Increasingly, there are a growing number of UU faculty initiating Community Service Learning (CSL) project for students. CSL comes in different forms, but generally refers to a model of active and experiential learning that combines classroom learning with volunteer work that achieves community goals. Real-life experiences in the community are linked to academic content through processes of critical reflection such as journal writing, small group discussion, and writing analytical papers.

At the Centre for Global Challenges we consider CSL as a teaching and learning approach that integrates community service with academic study, reflection and analysis to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities (National Commission on Service-learning 2002).


In the university-wide TIC to TIC project, which stands for Thematic Interdisciplinary Challenge to Teach, Inspire and Change students and professionals will work together on innovative solutions to problems identified within the strategic themes. The TIC to TIC programme offers multi-level and multidisciplinary learning where Bachelor’s- and Master’s students work together with professionals from a variety of disciplines.

The Centre for Global Challenges will be involved in setting up one of the pilot courses for this project. Bachelor and Master students from across the university will be able to apply to participate to work on a ‘decolonizing the curriculum’ project in period 3. This project is supervised by Dr. Laura Henderson together with researchers from the Centre’s research group on Decolonization.

CSL within the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance

The Utrecht Centre for Global Challenges is involved with a LEG Faculty-funded project on community service learning. The project involves mapping CSL across the Faculty, looking at CSL initiatives at the Faculty of Law, Economics, and Governance. The project runs until April 2020, at which time the project team will deliver its report to the Faculty education board. The goals of the project are to map and identify opportunities for further developing CSL within the LEG Faculty and the university more broadly. The Centre aims to play a key role in facilitating CSL across faculties.

Project team members include:

Brianne McGonigle Leyh, School of Law
Joost de Laat, School of Economics
Jeroen Vermeulen, School of Governance
Ruth ten Hove, project assistant

Special Interest Group Community Service Learning

Through education you can, as an academic teacher or student, contribute to a better society. In the Special Interest Group Community Service Learning we want to meet with other teachers who (aim to) implement community service in their education. We aim to exchange expertise and experiences, to discuss theoretical perspectives and explore practical approaches to stimulate learning in close interaction with society.

The SIG meetings are meant for teachers and staff that embrace this theme and are trying to give community service learning a role in their education and that want to exchange knowledge and experience with each other. All interested teachers are welcome to join, also if you do not have experience with community service learning. From the Centre for Global Challenges, Dr. Brianne McGonigle Leyh is involved with this Special Interest Group. See for more information Special Interest Group Community Service Learning.

Da Vinci Project

The Da Vinci project is an interdisciplinary honours programme combining CSL and Design Thinking around sustainability for 2nd- and 3rd-year Bachelor's students who are looking for an extra challenge. Student from across disciplines work together on teams, using Design Thinking methods, to provide solutions for societal partners.

From the Centre for Global Challenges, Dr. Brianne McGonigle Leyh is involved with the project. To learn more, visit the Da Vinci Project.