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Bringing Theory to Practice

Additional Resources


While there exist many definition of the following terms, BTtoP provides these operational definitions to aid in better interpreting project materials, including our RPP's.

"Civic engagement" is when students participate in public work—such as, but not restricted to—social and political action, community organizing, issue advocacy, and other activities which contribute to actual changes. Community service or servicelearning by themselves are not necessarily forms of engagement, but they might become such when linked to learning, reflection and action that produce changes.

“Civic development" refers to indicators and measures of civic outcomes, such as civic knowledge and skills, civic dispositions, caring for others and community, and personal and social responsibility.

“Engaged learning” is when students are active participants in “deep” rather than “surface” learning. There are various curricular and co-curricular approaches that
contribute to engaged learning, in addition to the usual lectures and seminars that characterize most curricula. Such learning raises expectations of students, enables them to consider how their learning affects and is affected by its application, and enhances the educational process by increasing their involvement in learning. Authentic engagement can contribute to civic development and promote psychosocial well-being of students.

“Psychosocial well-being” refers, at a minimum, to the presence of characteristics that typify positive mental health, such as a sense of direction, personal growth and fulfillment, social development, empathy, perspective-taking, resilience, mindfulness, and psychological flourishing.

“Building institutional capacity” is about institutional sustainability, rather than one-time events. We support strategies for institutional change. Although we normally invest in institutions, we also are open to proposals that build capacity among clusters of institutions, such as the creation of a regional network of colleges and universities.

"Transformational Learning" (from the College Outcomes Project) is based on the conviction that the core purposes of higher education go beyond providing useful and transferable skills that contribute to students’ intellectual growth; it includes aiding their full development as individuals—their well-being and sense of civic purpose. For a more detailed discussion of the concept of transformational learning, see the 2008 Strategy for Change (doc).

Related Projects

Active Minds: Changing the Conversation about Mental Health 
Active minds is the only organization working to utilize the student voice to change the conversation about mental health on college campuses. By developing and supporting chapters of a student-run mental health awareness, education, and advocacy group on campus, the organization works to increase students’ awareness of mental health issues, provides information and resources regarding mental health and mental illness, encourages students to seek help as soon as it is needed, and serves as liaison between students and the mental health community.

Campus Compact 
"Campus Compact is a national coalition of more than 1,100 college and university presidents - representing some 6 million students - dedicated to promoting community service, civic engagement, and service-learning in higher education."