Community engagement describes the collaboration between the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) and its larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.
The purpose of UHD's community engagement is the partnership of knowledge and resources with the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.
Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities (Learn and Serve America National Service Learning Clearinghouse). Service-learning aims to connect the personal and intellectual to help students acquire knowledge and a useful understanding of the world, build critical thinking capacities, and perhaps lead to fundamental questions about learning and about society and to a commitment to improve both.
The mission of CPSFS is to promote public service, family strengths, and civic engagement at UHD, to build partnerships with community organizations, educational institutions, and public and private agencies and corporations.
The center enhances the educational experiences and promotes the quality of life of UHD students, PK-12 students, teachers, and members of the Houston community. This is achieved through collaborations, research studies, publication of an academic journal, programs that reinforce academic learning and civic values among students, foster ethnic and racial harmony, strengthen families, advocate for underrepresented individuals and families, and facilitate the dissemination of best family-centered practices.
CPSFS wishes to serve as a one-stop-center and clearinghouse for all UHD departments/divisions that seek to develop or strengthen links and relationships with local and national businesses, philanthropic organizations, foundations, institutions, governmental agencies, and individuals, in order to enhance the effectiveness and value of UHD degree programs and services to the community.
- To enhance the academic learning and intellectual growth of Pk-12 and college students by engaging in high impact instructional practices, career-related experiences and internships, and linking student interest and skill-sets with identified community needs and opportunities.
- To strengthen students’ civic values and moral character by embedding service learning in the curriculum, responding to community needs, and engaging in service to others through direct volunteer service, internships, and community development activities.
- To strengthen and support families through faculty research, program evaluation, technical assistance, information dissemination and clearinghouse services, publication of an academic journal, and implementation of practices that promote healthy families.
- To improve the quality of the social environment of the community by engaging in programs that foster equity, as well as racial and ethnic diversity and harmony.
- To increase the capacity of the community to provide solutions to community needs and challenges such as homelessness, child and adult maltreatment, human trafficking, food insecurity, disparity of access to essential services, morbidities, mental health, and immigration issues.
- To build partnerships between UHD and Community organizations, public and private entities, and foundations for family and community strengths and empowerment.