Engaged Learning – as defined by the creators of this toolkit – is a pedagogical approach that enables students to derive learning from meaningful community engagement whilst working on real world problems. Engaged learning projects around Europe include working with asylum seekers, urban gardening, community law clinic (Exeter, UK), a student-run free urban space with various sub-projects (Magdeburg, Germany), and many others.

Engaged Learning initiatives vary in structure and approach, sit within a diverse range of university disciplines, and tackle an array of societal challenges.

Engaged learning

  • enables students to apply theory to real-world contexts outside universities and to co-produce knowledge with and for the community
  • provides students with the skills which increase their employability, and improve their personal and professional development
  • helps communities gain access to skills to help develop, evaluate or communicate their work.

Community University Partnerships, which describe the collaboration between universities and their communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources are central to Engaged Learning. Reciprocity in the partnerships is a core element of the Engaged Learning process.

Communities that partner in Engaged Learning projects benefit from the skills and knowledge of a supervised student, and gain an opportunity to educate the next generation of professionals and citizens. Partners also receive tangible benefits from the contribution of a supervised student to their cause, research question or societal challenge.

Community partners benefit from access to resources through connection to the
including specialized knowledge, trained researchers, and funding opportunities, as well as possible student volunteering and a potential pool of job applicants.

We hope that the experiences and examples collected of the CaST project initiatives featured below encourage, illustrate and spark new Engaged Learning efforts.

Hidden Exeter | University of Exeter

Hidden Exeter is one of five Hidden Cities apps that are the result of a three year (2019-22) collaborative research project coordinated by Fabrizio Nevola (University of Exeter): “Public Renaissance: Urban Cultures of Public Space between Early Modern Europe and the Present”, funded by the Humanities in European Research Area (HERA) and the Arts and…

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Managing Expectations | University of Turku

“Housing Estates in the 2020s” was a research-based but practice-oriented urban studies course arranged at the University of Turku in autumn 2021. The students worked in small multi-disciplinary groups to carry out a small study analysing either one or both of the two predefined housing estates, Runosmäki and Uittamo in Turku. Before that, they had…

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Main image: Urban planner Samuli Saarinen guiding an excursion in Runosmäki housing estate, Turku. Photo by Pirjo Turtiainen.