Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement

Binghamton University is seeking to achieve the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement — an elective classification that reflects important aspects of an institution’s mission, identity and commitments related to community engagement — that requires an in-depth self-assessment of our polices and processes in relation to standards of best practices.

Importantly, this classification is not an award, but an evidence-based documentation of the University’s practices to be used in a process of self-assessment and quality improvement, similar to an accreditation process of self-study. Binghamton’s documentation/application will be reviewed by a National Review Panel to determine whether we qualify for recognition as a community-engaged institution.

Approval of Binghamton’s application would allow the University to join the 359 institutions in the U.S. that have already achieved the classification — 240 announced in 2015 and 119 in 2020. Among those with the classification are nine SUNY schools including the University at Albany as well as Cornell; the University of Rochester; Rutgers; and the universities of Maryland Baltimore County, Massachusetts, Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Vermont.

What is community engagement?

The Carnegie Foundation defines community engagement as the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. The expected outcomes for such collaborations are enriched scholarship, research and creative activities; enhanced curriculum, teaching and learning; preparation of educated, engaged citizens; strengthening of democratic values and civic responsibility; the addressing of critical societal issues; and contributions to the public good.

Reciprocity is what defines and distinguishes engagement from outreach or service, defining relationships between those in the University and those outside the University that are grounded in mutual respect, shared authority and co-creation of goals and outcomes.

Why seek the classification?

This University-wide initiative expects to:

  • bring disparate parts of the campus together to advance a unified engagement agenda and to identify promising practices that can be shared across the University
  • clarify the University’s identity and meet our mission in support of the Road Map to Premier strategic plan
  • foster institutional advancement in community-based teaching, learning and scholarship
  • bring a new level of recognition to our community engagement initiatives, demonstrating the value that higher education brings to its partners and to the campus community

What does this process mean for faculty and the University?

We know that not every faculty member will be involved in community-engaged teaching or scholarship, but, as an institution, Binghamton must demonstrate a deep and pervasive culture of engagement in both curricular and co-curricular activities, research and institutional initiatives.

The classification will require efforts in four domains, all connected to one another:

  • Mission
    • Engagement is part of the University mission and identity
    • Promotion of engagement by leadership and evident in strategic planning
    • Formal recognition through awards and celebrations
  • Partnerships
    • Reciprocal relationships with community partners
    • Institution has systemic assessment of community perceptions
    • Community voice in institutional or departmental planning for engagement
  • Pedagogy
    • Professional development support for faculty and staff to develop courses
    • Percentage of faculty who teach community-engaged courses
    • Recognition and rewards for participating in engaged pedagogy
  • Epistemology
    • Faculty-led engaged scholarship (focused on community impact and in collaboration with community partners)
    • Scholarship related to curricular achievements
    • Recognition and rewards for faculty participating in engaged scholarship

Timeline for application

Binghamton University’s self-assessment reporting period is 2023-2024, with our application due in April 2025. The announcement of approved applications will be made in January 2026.


Kelli Huth
Director of the Center for Civic Engagement