Prompts for Reflection When Developing Community-Engaged Courses

Community Engagement 101 is a proposed introductory curriculum for faculty and TA/Teaching Fellow graduate students across The New School (TNS) who incorporate external engagement or partnership as a part of their syllabus. For more information, visit our Collaboratory In-Depth Profile here.

These prompts were developed in preparation for a Faculty Syllabus Workshop in August 2020; we invited all participating faculty to reflect on their responses to these questions before joining the workshop. We believe that they are essential questions to consider for anyone who intends to partner externally, and/or who intends to ask their students to collaborate with an organization or community external to the university for the purposes of their course. 

Why community engagement, scholar activism, or partnership? 

  • What are your course’s learning outcomes?  
  • How does community engagement manifest in your course? Why have you chosen to incorporate external partners or community members into your course? 

Partnership / Collaboration: 

  • Are you already a member of that community and/or were you invited in? 
  • What are the intended outcomes for students, faculty, and external community members? How will you evaluate these intended outcomes? 
  • What is the nature of the partnership (client-based, community collaboration, scholar-activism, etc.)?
  • How will you center the partner’s needs in the course’s learning objectives?
  • How will you ensure that this partnership does not create a drain on the energy and resources of the partner organization?

Faculty Development:

  • How have you prepared to take on this kind of teaching? 
  • In what trainings or workshops have you participated, or what certifications have you acquired, to prepare you to engage students and communities in this kind of learning?


  • How does your course engage students in reflecting about privilege, positionality, and power, and how these may surface in community-classroom collaborations? 
  • How will you create time and space in the syllabus for reflection and processing?
  • How do you plan to ensure that your students develop humility and listening skills prior to engaging with partner communities? 
  • What content and teaching methods will best support these pedagogical approaches? 

Leveraging University Resources:

  • How will you use this course and partnership to leverage and redirect university resources to the partner community? 
  • How will you use this course and partnership to make the university more accessible to the partner community?

Pandemic / Crisis:

  • How have you modified your course to respond to the particular needs of the pandemic / current moment in the partner organization and student body? 
  • If planning for a post-pandemic course, are there other crises the partner community faces that you should keep in mind?

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