VCU ASPiRE is a living-learning program promoting community engagement through scholarly initiatives, academic coursework and co-curricular experiences. The mission of VCU ASPiRE is to enrich and deepen students’ understanding of their capacity to create positive change in communities through coursework, co-curricular experiences and a vibrant residential experience. Therefore, the areas of primary emphasis for VCU ASPiRE initiatives include community-engaged service, community-engaged teaching and learning, as well as community-engaged scholarship.
Community engagement is the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in the context of partnership and reciprocity. It can involve partnerships and coalitions that help mobilize resources and influence systems and serve as catalysts for initiating and/or changing policies, program, and practices. Specifically, ASPiRE co-curricular activity is dedicated to community-based needs in the following areas of impact:
Community-engaged service consists of the application of one’s professional expertise that addresses a community-identified need and supports the goals and mission of the university and the community. This may entail the delivery of expertise, resources, and services to the community. VCU ASPiRE is committed to community-engaged service through sustained community partnerships and community outreach.
Community-engaged teaching and learning through VCU ASPiRE involves pedagogical approaches that connect students to faculty through activities that address community-identified needs through mutually beneficial partnerships that deepen students’ academic and civic learning.
Examples: Foundations of Community Engagement Course, community-engagement seminars and Internships, professional development, service-learning courses
Community-engaged scholarship through VCU ASPiRE involves the creation and dissemination of knowledge and creative expression in furtherance of the mission and goals of the university and in collaboration with the community. This type of scholarship addresses community needs through research, teaching and service in a mutually beneficial partnership. The quality and impact of the work is determined by academic peers and community partners.
Examples: externally-funded projects, professional meeting presentations, contributions to professional journals, community program evaluations
*The definitions within are consistent with the terminology approved by the Council for Community Engagement, Division of Community Engagement.