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.

David Malone, Director of Duke Service-Learning on the "five R's" of service-learning:

Jan Riggsbee, Associate Professor of the Practice in Duke's Program in Education, on the benefits of service-learning:

Duke's Definition

In 1999, the Dean's Advisory Committee for Service-Learning adopted the following definition of service-learning at Duke:

Service-learning links classroom learning with service to communities. Service opportunities are developed through collaboration among faculty, students, and individuals and organizations in the community. Service placements are designed to meet two criteria: to enhance the educational goals of a course and to serve the public good by providing a needed service to individuals, organizations, schools, or other entities in the community. Students involved in service-learning make a commitment to engage in a service project or to complete a specified number of hours of service work. Through structured activities of reflection and analysis, they are asked to integrate their service experience with the other materials of the course.


Service-learning goes beyond extracurricular community service because it involves participants in reading, reflection, and analysis. Credit is awarded not for service alone, but for academic work integrating the service experience. At its best, service-learning enhances and deepens students' understanding of an academic discipline or subject, while providing them with experience that develops leadership and life skills and engages them in critical reflection about individual, institutional, and social ethics.