Academic Service-Learning at APU

Supporting APU’s commitment to building strong Christian leaders, the Center for Academic Service-Learning has made great progress in measuring increases in commitment to civic engagement, intercultural competency, and transformational scholarship among our students.

APU Service-learning Distinctives


There is an intentional and clear connection to course learning outcomes and purposeful critical reflection throughout.


Faculty, community partners, and students form active partnerships as mutual beneficiaries and coeducators.

Making a Difference

Project outcomes are evidenced through the impact on communities as well as on student learning, civic understanding, goal setting, and faith development and application.

“Academic service-learning is the glue that connects knowledge with practice and people. Reading, reciting, and taking tests may evaluate knowledge, application, and integration, but academic service-learning expands those opportunities into situations with the practical problems of the workplace.”

Kathleen Tallman, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Biology and Chemistry

Faculty across disciplines recognize that learning deepens through hands-on activities, interaction with community members, and applying classroom learning to meet the needs of others. During the 2017-18 academic year, 65 APU faculty employed academic service-learning in 185 courses/course sections across 24 departments throughout the university, resulting in more than 46,000 hours of service to and engagement with the local community.

Academic service-learning at APU empowers students with a commitment to high-quality service opportunities directly tied to scholarship, thus advancing the objective of postgraduation employability. Learn more by reading our research reports.

We are also proud to play an integral part in supporting Provost Mark Stanton’s Education to Vocation initiative.

Service-Learning at APU

Organize for Excellence
The center, as an academic unit, is unique in its dependence on the skill and commitment of both undergraduate and graduate students to organize, manage, and ensure quality service-learning experiences across the campus.

Each service-learning project that I helped facilitate has taught me the importance of everyone’s different skills and how God can work through them all. Our office has a variety of classes that complete many unique projects, but all of them serve the local community. Through participating in service-learning, I have confidence in my God-given talents and that there is always a way to serve.

Brooke Nagel
Undergraduate service-learning advocate

Empower Students
The center, a member of National Campus Compact, enables students to move from theory to practice, preparing them for a lifetime of learning, service, and civic engagement.

Students in Professor Skyla Herod’s BIOL 326 bring classroom learning and experience to Azusa Unified School District middle school students, asking “Does taking drugs really matter?” APU’s Brain Awareness Fairs move classroom experience from theory to practice, transforming the perspectives of local youth while preparing APU students for a lifetime of learning, service, and civic engagement.

One neurobiology student shared, “I loved being able to share my passion for science with the kids.”

Build Community
A GLBL 355 (Principles and Practice in Community Engagement) student said of the service-learning experience in South Africa, “I learned that sometimes there are things in this world that we cannot control and cannot change. However, that does not mean we cannot have an impact on the world, and those around us.”

Serve Faculty
The center assists faculty in integrating a service-learning component in their course curriculum that develops service opportunities, trains and orients students, assists in reflection and evaluation, and supports research and publication.

It continues to be a highlight of the class, helping students learn through real case scenarios. Service-learning reinforces the classroom experience as legitimate.

Jim Thompson, Ed.D.
Art professor

Enhance Scholarship
The center promotes APU’s culture of scholarship throughout both campus and community by learning, using, and sharing knowledge gained from service-learning through conference presentations, undergraduate and graduate research, faculty publications, and evaluation research.