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Academic Service-Learning (ASL) and Community-Engaged Learning (CEL) Course Designation

What is the difference between ASL and CEL?

ASL and CEL Courses at Binghamton University

Designation Process Timeline

The course designation application is temporarily closed due to staffing transitions. For more information, contact

The Association of American Colleges & Universities has identified service-learning as a high impact educational practice. As a nation-wide norm, colleges and universities designate service-learning courses which meet agreed upon standards vetted by the field's expert practitioners and faculty members from their respective institutions. Thus, designating Binghamton University ASL and CEL courses brings our institution closer to compliance with national engagement standards and eligibility for high level awards and recognitions. Designation of these courses raises awareness about the significant effort being made by faculty, schools and departments on campus to enhance student learning and deepen university-community engagement. ASL and CEL designation also allows students to make informed and intentional decisions in selecting courses that engage the community. Offering ASL and CEL designated courses brings Binghamton closer to becoming an "Engaged University of the 21st Century."

What is the difference between ASL and CEL?

ASL is a nationally recognized pedagogy characterized by somewhat rigid formal and theoretical components which foster campus-community reciprocity, reflection and student development. Those new to ASL may find it challenging to meet all of its formal requirements. Additionally, some may find that ASL is simply not an appropriate fit for the course they would like to teach. CEL is a more flexible alternative which still results in outcomes beneficial to students and the community. The application form provides guidelines for how ASL and CEL courses should ideally be structured in order to receive designation in either category. There is one application for both designations.

Academic service-learning (ASL) is a credit-bearing academic course with required student participation in an organized direct or indirect service activity or project that meets a community need and is connected to course content and specific learning outcome(s) with structured reflection and evaluation

Community Engaged Learning (CEL) is a credit-bearing academic course in which students are involved in a community setting such that the experience is linked to course content, enriches learning and benefits the community in some way.

Basic differences between ASL and CEL courses:

Academic Credits At least 2 At least 1
Service required of all students? Yes Not necessarily
Number of hours of service At least 15 No minimum
Community Benefit Service linked to problem or issue, ideally identified by community members Provides some form of benefit to residents, organizations or others
Student Benefit Course content directly linked to service and community issues being addressed; Course learning objective(s) directly linked to service and mastery is expected and evaluated Experience linked to course content; intentionally designed to advance student understanding and should be assessed
Structured reflection Required Strongly encouraged
Student evaluation Required and linked to learning objective(s); ideally include input from community partner; contributes to final grade Strongly encouraged


Questions to consider when designing an ASL course — Terms and Definitions

For application assistance or pre-application consultation, contact Facutly Engagement Associate Jessica Arends at

Application for Course Designation (download .doc 22KB)

ASL and CEL Courses at Binghamton University

See examples of ASL and CEL courses at Binghamton University

Designation Process Timeline

(typically 3-4 weeks)

  • Instructor submits syllabus and application to
  • Application is reviewed by CCE staff
  • Instructor and CCE staff meet to discuss the details of the course, finalize application
  • The application is reviewed by at least two members of the CCE Advisory Council
  • Feedback/suggestions for changes are given, possible further discussions with CCE staff
  • Course is approved, syllabus is posted on CCE website and designation code appears in the BU BRAIN

Last Updated: 7/3/18