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Community Based Learning

What is Community Based Learning?

Community Based Learning (CBL) is experiential learning that takes place outside the classroom and traditional academic settings. CBL takes place through volunteering and occasionally, via internship placements. CBL is an opportunity for you to take the academic concepts and theories that you are learning and apply them in a live, real-world setting. CBL is a venue for engaging your head, heart, and hands by developing relationships and networks in the community and working in the field of sustainability education.

Where do I go to find a place to do my CBL hours?

The CBL Opportunities Guidebookpdf has been created to help you in your search. Please note that it is only a guide; you are not required to choose a place for your CBL from the guidebook.It also includes resources to help you find additional volunteering opportunities that are not listed in the guidebook.

How many CBL hours are required?

This will vary from course to course, but typically 30 hours per term are required.

What do I need to do or to know before getting started?

The following questions and reminders are useful to bear in mind as you begin.

  • What do you hope to get out of your CBL experience?
  • Does the work that the organization/program is doing fit with your academic interests, career goals and/or personal values? Are you excited and invigorated by the work they do?
  • What time commitment does the program expect from volunteers, (hours/week, one-time, short or long-term)? Is this commitment expectation one you can fulfill?
  • Is the organization/program conveniently located for you? If not, are you willing and/or able to travel to get there?
  • Does the program/organization operate during hours that are conducive to your schedule?

Other considerations to keep in mind:

  • Be kind to yourself — find a place to volunteer and start volunteering early in the term. Many students procrastinate on finding a place to do their CBL hours, or wait until the end of the term to cram them in. This can be stressful for you and for the organization where you are volunteering.
  • Keep a record of the hours you have spent volunteering and what you did. Some instructors will provide guidance and requirements for CBL record keeping, and some will not. Trying to recall from memory what you have done and how long you did it can be stressful. Find a method of tracking that works for you and keep up with it.
  • Be reliable, considerate and timely. Remember, volunteering is a service that organizations come to rely upon. Additionally, you are representing Portland State University, the ELP Department and the LSE program. On a personal level, leaving an organization with a good impression can often lead to future employment or very valuable references and connections.
  • Talk with your instructors and volunteer supervisor if you need to.  Your CBL hours should be meaningful and educational. If you are experiencing difficulty with your CBL hours or experience, don’t be afraid to talk to your instructors, advisor, or the person supervising your volunteer time. You’ll feel better if you do, and things have a way of working out.