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Civic engagement and service learning opportunities provide students with unique real-world experiences they are unable to acquire in a traditional in-class setting. Students develop a commitment to the community in which they live, exposure to other populations, leadership abilities, skills to work successfully within a team, and a chance to learn from failure. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has recognized the importance of such opportunities and has added the Community Engagement Classification to the restructured Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education. The purpose of this paper is to provide a synthesis of the literature that addresses civic engagement and service learning opportunities and to describe a university class that was designed to provide undergraduate students with a capstone service learning experience promoting wellness for older adults in the community. Data that were collected to evaluate the success of the class are also described.
Graber and Chodzko-Zajko are with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL. O’Connor is with the University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire, Eau Claire, WI. Linker is with North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND.