Office for Faculty Development

Civic Engagement Scholars Initiative (CESI)

CESI is intended to strengthen the university’s ability to cultivate in students a life-long commitment to civic engagement in their public and professional lives. To achieve this goal, CESI provides faculty, departments, and teams with opportunities to design one or more courses that incorporate a civic engagement component—through community-based participatory research, service-learning, or other means—to address issues of importance to communities while enhancing student learning.

CESI, developed in 2012, supported three cohorts with the support of a three-year grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. 2015-2016, the CESI program will be modified with the goals of ensuring sustainability and amplifying impact. Opportunities will vary by cohort and enable faculty, departments, and teams to propose ideas that support specific issue areas, university priorities, and partnerships. In addition to Cohort 4, the CESI team expects to release a second call in Fall 2015 to support a fifth cohort starting in spring 2016. Faculty members who successfully complete design and implementation semesters will be eligible to apply for an additional stipend to support scholarship and writing related to the experience of CESI during the design or implementation stages, or both.

Civic Engagement Learning: Design, Implementation & Scholarship 

General Goals of CESI

CESI seeks individual faculty, departments, or teams to re-design or implement new curriculum so as to:

1)      increase opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in meaningful experiential education (i.e. internships, service-learning, participatory action research) that builds civic and employability skills, habits, and knowledge through addressing real-world issues;

2)      create new models for student learning through civic engagement;

3)      increase students’ knowledge of and ability to critically examine public policy issues and/or civic concerns;

4)      establish an assessment of student learning outcomes and performance indicators for service-learning and civic engagement; and

5)      advance the field of community-engaged scholarship through publication of innovative practices.

Cohort 4 – Environmental Stewardship

Cohort 4 proposals must focus on courses that address environmental challenges and promote environmental stewardship in partnership with community organizations. This cohort will be part of a broader initiative, Campuses for Environmental Stewardship, led by four New England state Campus Compacts with funding provided by a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation, established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after Mr. Davis' retirement as chairman of Shaw's Supermarkets, Inc.

Campus Compact, a network comprising a national office and 34 state and regional Campus Compacts with nearly 1,100 member colleges and universities, is dedicated to promoting campus-based civic engagement and partnerships to support student success and civic learning across the education continuum. This CESI cohort reflects a collective interest in enhancing the environmental literacy of all students across disciplines and majors with the premise that developing an understanding of science and how it’s related to the most complex public issues of our time will enable more informed decision-making and promote purposeful civic engagement among adults. To this end, increased funding can be obtained by aligning proposals to incorporate more than one course in a project or partnership and/or to build curricular pathways that incrementally build students’ civic capacities.

Cohort 4 Participation Requirements

Faculty, departments, and teams must make a one year commitment to participate in Cohort 4 of CESI. Dates of participation are October 2015 through September 2016 and will include both a design and implementation semester, with the expectation of meeting the following deliverables:

  • Attend Faculty Development Institute and Training in Portland, Maine on November 5-6, 2015 (Lodging and most meals are covered in addition to mini-grant funding);
  • Participate in three on-campus discussion groups facilitated by the CESI team (two in fall, one in spring semester, scheduling TBD with the cohort);
  • Review CESI Online Curriculum Modules to support development of course;
  • Submit a revised syllabus and action plan that articulates how environmental service-learning will be embedded into the course;
  • Implement the newly designed course in Spring 2016 semester (a student-led community presentation must be included);  
  • Support the CESI team with assessing impact which includes pre/post student surveys and interviews, review of student products and assignments, and faculty and community partner feedback;
  • Participate in an Experiential Field Seminar in Summer 2016 (optional) and a Best Practices Showcase in September 2016 (required).

Benefits and Resources

Financial support for two semesters of involvement (up to $2,000 per course to support program participation and associated project costs);
Access to a series of workshops, panels, online modules, and case studies on civic engagement facilitated by UMass Boston faculty and staff, community experts, and regional/national experts;

  • Membership in a learning community around the issues associated with community-engaged teaching and scholarship;
  • Technical assistance for curriculum development, partnership planning, and logistical support;
  • Assistance from a Federal Work-Study (FWS) student for course-related projects;
  • Opportunity to apply for additional funds to support scholarship and writing after completion of design and implementation semesters.


Questions? Please contact: and/or

View the Prezi from the Information Session

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Submit your Application for CESI 3-Semester Program

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