The items listed below were drawn from the Resources for Responsible and Ethical Community Engagement developed by a working group of 10-15 Duke staff members affiliated with programs that connect students to the community. The working group was born out of a “Retreat for Understanding Students’ Engaged Experiences,” a now-annual grassroots effort organized by the Academic Advising Center, Duke Service-Learning, and the Duke Office of Civic Engagement and attended by 50-75 staff and faculty in dozens of offices. We hope you find them helpful in strengthening civic engagement work.


Click on any item below to learn more about resources available.

Engaged Scholarship

Engaged scholarship is defined as the collaboration between academics and individuals outside the academy – knowledge professionals and the lay public (local, regional/state, national, global) – for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. The scholarship of engagement includes explicitly democratic dimensions of encouraging the participation of non-academics in ways that enhance and broaden engagement and deliberation about major social issues inside and outside the university.

Cultural Humility

Many kinds of civic engagement and service learning involve interaction between groups from different cultures, defined variously by differences of ethnicity, race, socio-economic status, nationality or language. It is essential that as students prepare to work and serve in communities, they gain a nuanced awareness of their own cultural backgrounds, a genuine respect for others’ cultures, and the humility to recognize the limits of their own perspectives. They must also develop the intercultural skills and knowledge that will help them engage and work with others in ways that are both effective and appropriate. In this context, resources on this site include material on the theoretical framework of this topic as well as documents, videos, and activities to enhance intercultural understanding. Listed below are examples of the types of resources we’ve collected
for this topic.

Learning & Reflection

Reflection is the process by which we give cognitive meaning to our immediate experiences.   There are many pedagogical theories and practices about how to facilitate this association in experiential learning.  Students engaging in community-based projects often do not benefit from the same level of close mentorship that faculty are able to give in the classroom. Furthermore, they often do not have the same opportunities for intellectual deliberation and reflection when active in the field, making reflection activities and assignments all the more important to the learning process.

Partnership & Context

When working to address a common goal, partnerships offer a framework for collaboration and shared connections between groups, organizations, and communities. The goal of this page is to provide faculty/staff with materials to help students understand, contextualize, and engage in meaningful community partnerships.

Power & Privilege

We all have multiple identities that can be inherent (race, gender, sexual orientation) or inherited (class, education, immigration status). In our society, some of those identities are privileged while others are marginalized. If we are engaged in social justice efforts, learning about and confronting our privileged and marginal identities helps us engage with one another from a place of awareness and respect. The more we understand the ways the system of privilege operates in our everyday lives and is reflected in many institutions and organizations, the more we will be able to address our own behavior and work with communities to combat these inequities on a larger scale.

Risk & Well-Being

Risk and safety are valid concerns when engaging in civic engagement opportunities. When working on behalf of any institution, including Duke University, there are always legal policies and procedures to consider. Community Partners may also have their own-waivers to sign, volunteer trainings and volunteer age limits. It is important to look into these before setting off to volunteer. There are also steps to take into consideration if, while volunteering, you are also conducting research on human subjects. Always take a look at the institution’s IRB page to ensure you are following protocol. Your own safety and well-being are crucial to finishing projects without negative repercussions to yourself. By partaking in self-care before, during, and after the trip, you will be prepared to cope mentally, emotionally, and physically with any number of situations and environments. Reflecting on your experience is key.

Professionalism & Expectations

Individuals serving and partnering with communities and organizations are expected to demonstrate professional behavior. This includes dressing appropriately, communicating directly and clearly, providing accurate work, reliably arriving on time and as scheduled and committing to the service and organization. Additional expectations for professionalism are often provided by the community organization.