When it comes to developing community engagement initiatives or service-learning programs at your institution, whether you are new to the field or looking to integrate best practices, hearing from other scholar-practitioners can help provide new perspectives and grow your network.
Here are 15 conferences, in no particular order, we recommend for supporting your professional development. These are great opportunities for networking and sharing the best practices in community engagement.
1. IARSLCE: The International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement is a professional organization that aims to promote and support the development of service-learning and community engagement in higher education.
We have been going to IARSLCE (here is a link to our social media post) for over seven years! The people, the community, and the research being promoted are top-notch. In addition, the international focus and mix of various countries enrich the experience and learning—an excellent conference for the budding or experienced community-engaged scholar.
CEO George Luc at The International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement
2. NSLC: The National Service-Learning Conference is hosted annually by the National Youth Leadership Council, a nonprofit organization that aims to promote and support youth leadership development through service-learning. The National Service-Learning Conference has fantastic sessions for educators in both higher education and K-12, focusing on connecting youth leaders with educators to collaborate and move service-learning forward.
The conference has been great for connecting with K-12 educators and students doing excellent work in their communities. In addition, it’s always great to spend a part of the conference volunteering with a local/regional organization and reflect on the experience with other attendees.
National Youth Leadership Council presentation in 2022
3. AERA-SIG: The American Educational Research Association Special Interest Group on Experiential Education and Community Engagement: Scholarship and Practice is a group of researchers and practitioners interested in promoting and conducting research on service-learning and community engagement in education. A great opportunity for graduate students and faculty alike to share their research and learn from others.
We had a blast last year in Charlottesville, Virginia, attending AERA-SIG at its first-ever summit! They’ll be hosting one in 2023 in Asheville, North Carolina, and we’ll be sponsors again!
4. SEE: The Society for Experiential Education (formerly NSEE, National Society of Experiential Education) aims to promote and support experiential learning in education through professional development and networking opportunities while uplifting voices to help provide a more well-rounded view of what experiential learning is like in the field.
The SEE vision is to”... establish effective methods of experiential education as fundamental to the development of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that empower learners and promote the common good.” - SEE
Last year’s conference at Salt Lake City, Utah, was great! The year before that, it was in Orlando. So many great memories, as shown here. Here you will connect with those interested in High Impact Practices with backgrounds and professions working in career and internship experiences.
CEO George Luc hosting a round table discussion at The Society for Experiential Education conference in 2022
5. CLDE: Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement develop resources to help encourage students to become engaged and active community members. CLDE promotes this vision through education, and democratic participation, emphasizing the value of conversation and social responsibility.
Our time in Minneapolis was super fun, as shown here! We visited several different sites and learned so much from practitioners and leaders in the field. Here you will see lots of student affairs professionals focused on civic and community engagement.
6. CUMU: The Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities is committed to promoting and supporting service-learning and community engagement in urban and metropolitan contexts.
Last year’s CUMU was in sunny San Diego. The location definitely amplified the learning and experience, as shown here. Here you will meet with institutional leaders (presidents, vice presidents, deans) that care about this work with a mix of faculty scholars and practitioners.
7. Continuums of Service: The Continuums of Service (COS) supports service-learning and community engagement while centering local and indigenous voices.
COS happens every other year. Due to the pandemic, it was last hosted in San Diego a few years ago. It’s back this year in Hawaii. If you want to register, go here. At this conference, you will have a mix of administrators and practitioners.
8. Gulf-South Summit: The Gulf-South Summit connects educators with community partners. It uplifts the voices of local nonprofits and grassroots organizations to show the impact community engagement in education has had on their organizations and the impact students, community partners, and institutions of higher education have had on communities in the Gulf South region.
We’ve been attending this conference since the early days. One of the best :) We always appreciate going to a smaller city in which the institution is an anchor and has deep community relationships. Similar to SEE, you’ll get a group of welcoming practitioners and administrators who advance this field. To register, go here.
9. Engaged Scholarship Consortium: The Engaged Scholarship Consortium (ESC) consists of members from higher education institutions. The Engaged Scholarship Consortium aims to build bridges and collaborate to build strong partnerships between universities and community partners anchored in scholarship. It is designed to build bridges and empower students to be engaged in their community.
We always learn a ton at this conference! Here is a photo of us attending the conference. ESC intertwines individuals advancing community engagement through extension services at public land grant institutions, administrators, scholar-practitioners, and community partner organizations.
George Luc, CEO and Co-founder of GivePulse, and Lauren Bartshe at the Engaged Scholarship Consortium Conference in 2022
10. IMPACT Conference: The IMPACT Conference centers around college and university students looking to gain the skills, knowledge, and ability to become socially responsible and build bridges in their communities.
This conference has great content and sessions for students, but there is a growing amount of content for administrators and practitioners in the field. Here is a photo of us there! We’ve seen many institutions and their administrators leverage this conference for both staff & student development and leadership. To register, go here.
11: National Campus Compact Conference: They are “...a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to advancing the public purposes of higher education.” (Campus Compact). Campus Compact is the largest and oldest higher education association focused on community engagement and service learning.
It’s been a while since we last attended this Conference in person. We were hoping to attend the one in Seattle, but due to the pandemic, it went virtual. In the virtual conference, we were fortunate to sponsor Bettina Love as a keynote speaker for their conference.
Bettina L. Love, University of Georgia keynote speaker at the National Campus Compact Conference in 2022
12: CCPH: The Community-Campus Partnerships for Health conference is focused on what is a healthy partnership and invests in researching the aspects that go into developing a beneficial partnership between campuses and community partners built on authenticity and community growth.
Colleagues have shared this as a really helpful conference. We have several health science centers and hospitals recommending this as a critical one to attend from a professional development standpoint.
13: CEI: Community Engagement Institute, hosted by Partners in Campus and Community Engagement, hosts a conference bringing together administrators, faculty, staff, and community representatives to share innovations, research, and up-and-coming practices in the field of community engagement and service-learning.
Held in the Northwest, CIE focuses on improving and innovating community engagement in the communities in which they live and focuses primarily on cultivating relationships with community partners in the Northwest region of the United States.
14: PACE: Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement conference “...seeks to grow and share the practice of scholarship and engagement.” (PACE).
Colleagues have also recommended the PACE to us to attend too. PACE offers sessions to advance community and civic engagement through research, programs, partnerships, and sharing co-curricular models and strategies for institutions to advance how they think about community and civic engagement.
15: Imagining America: Imagining America is a National Gathering and immersive experience bringing together artists, scholars, designers, students, and cultural organizers addressing social and cultural issues. Imagining America joins attendees through dialogue and creativity to inspire and educate leaders to move toward transformative action and education.
Last year’s IA conference was in New Orleans, and it was a blast to learn from scholars, community organizers, and artists. Here is a snapshot showing some of the fun we had. At this conference, you will see lots of faculty, administrators, community organizers, artists, et al. The next conference will be hosted in Providence, Rhode Island, focusing on Reparations.
Presenters, artists, and performers on stage at the Imagining America National Gathering in 2022