Daylong Engagement Excursion trips, coordinated by VT Engage: The Community Learning Collaborative, offer Virginia Tech faculty a fresh look at community learning opportunities and an experience connecting and creating dialogue with community partners. 

The excursions aim to assist faculty and community partners in identifying community needs that overlap with research interests and coursework.

Community learning, previously known as service learning, continues to evolve into an approach that further integrates community engagement with academic course content. VT Engage’s emphasis on intensive community-based partnerships has prompted the use of the term “community learning” to reflect this.  

During the 2012-13 academic year, over 180 courses at Virginia Tech reported incorporating community learning into course content. Students in these courses experienced an integrated community experience with their academic coursework. These experiences included student involvement in community efforts related to poverty, sustainability, economic development, intergenerational programming, and organizational capacity building. 

Perry Martin, senior associate director of community learning, is looking forward to expanding community learning courses with the Engagement Excursions.

“My hope is that through these excursions we can facilitate innovative partnerships that connect our best community learning opportunities with university partners who can both contribute to, and grow from the experience of authentic and innovative community engagement.”

The first excursion featured a tour of various Roanoke area efforts related to local foods access, promoting healthy diets, sustainable agriculture practices, and community design.

Additional trips are planned in July and August. Each will revolve around a different theme and invite faculty to spend the day visiting local and regional community organizations touring and discussing ways they can collaborate with community partners. 

Upcoming Engagement Excursions will cover the following topics:

  • Community/youth creativity and STEM programming
  • Space/programming design for pre-kindergarten populations
  • Community services for older adults
  • Community services for refugee populations
  • Community responses to homelessness and poverty
  • Sustainability/local foods efforts
  • Non-profit and community marketing needs
  • Community design and economic development

Groups will travel in vans departing from Virginia Tech at 9 a.m. and return around 4:30 p.m. For more information or to register for an Engagement Excursion contact email Liz Roberts.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.