Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College


Community responsibility is at the core of education

Community-Based Learning (CBL) began as a grass-roots movement among faculty and staff who believed in the potential of education to transform students’ lives and society. Now as a formal program under Academic Affairs, it provides support across all disciplines through assistance with community-based learning course implementation, professional development, and resources. The program supports the Mission, Vision, and Values of PCC and serves everyone under the PCC umbrella throughout the district.

PCC is proud of its faculty who are connecting their course learning objectives and reflection exercises with community engagement! They have been providing thousands of PCC students educational opportunities to volunteer, learn about social issues, and make a difference in their communities.

What is Community-Based Learning?

At PCC, Community-Based Learning (CBL) is a teaching method that integrates reciprocal partnerships, community engagement, and critical reflection to meet institutional and course outcomes while developing individual, civic, and social responsibility. Faculty choose to teach courses with a community-based learning component (either optional or required) as a way to engage students in the classroom. Students in these courses actively participate in the community and relate their experiences to the course material through various methods of reflection (discussion, journal entry, written report, presentation, etc.).

Why Community-Based Learning?

Community-Based Learning directly supports that belief through projects that deepen and contextualize course learning outcomes by addressing the needs of our community. Excerpts from student evaluations and journals:

  • I’m glad my sociology class got me to start volunteering. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do yet I needed a bit of a push!
  • I wasn’t working on something that felt familiar and comfortable, I was in the process of learning completely new skills while at the same time applying them to my real life. I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding and challenging academic experience.
  • I loved asking the lady I was folding paper cranes with how long she lived in Oregon and suddenly her amazing life story came out to me unhindered…
  • This project has made me want to pursue my interests because I have gained a confidence that I can and will do excellent things by virtue of my passion for them.
  • This project has shown me how important it is to actually go out and become a part of the community and in doing so has provided me with an invaluable opportunity to gain real world knowledge that no textbook can teach.