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Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning

Students at Holy Cross have the opportunity to connect academic learning with civic engagement through community-based learning (CBL) opportunities integrated into courses offered in a wide variety of disciplines. In CBL courses, students bring their classroom learning to life through a range of projects and direct service opportunities that meet community identified needs.

Through CBL courses, students gain a deeper understanding of course content by integrating the theories they learn in the classroom with real-world practice. Consistent with the Holy Cross tradition of preparing students for a lifetime of learning and moral citizenship, CBL courses invite students to reflect upon moral and ethical questions of social responsibility, while simultaneously considering how their unique gifts can be used to positively contribute to society. Concurrently, communities gain access to volunteers, resources, and the wide-ranging research and scholarly expertise housed in the College’s many disciplinary departments.

The structure of each CBL course, whether project- or placement-based, can vary tremendously. CBL project courses typically involve the whole class engaging with the same research project or community engagement activity; while CBL placements typically involve weekly off-campus community service. Both CBL structures, which join the efforts of students, faculty, and community agencies, lead students to become more deeply invested and engaged in their course subject matter as they see course content employed to support the greater community in a real and purposeful way. 

Why CBL?

  • 90% of students said that CBL helped them to learn more deeply than they otherwise would have.
  • 93% of students said that CBL helped them to connect their course material to the real world.
  • 87% of students said that CBL was valuable for their personal growth.
  • 92% of faculty said that CBL increased students' inerest in the subject matter.*
    *Data from 2012-2014 CBL Assessments

For more information on how the Donelan Office can support your involvement with community-based learning, please visit the following pages:

The Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning helps students make connections between their courses and community sites thanks to a generous endowment established by Joseph P. Donelan II '72.