Community-Engaged Learning

Spanish Cbl
Notre Dame students meet in groups of four with bilingual or Spanish-speaking families to learn their family history and produce a book in Spanish laying out their story in writing and pictures.

What is Community-Engaged Learning?

Community-Engaged Learning (CEL) collaborates with community organizations in partnerships based on mutual respect and reciprocity. CEL is not mere service or volunteer time added to a class; rather, CEL integrates learning in the classroom with lived experience, offering you opportunities for deep learning.  In Spanish, that means that you can participate in immersive experiences that make a difference — here in South Bend, throughout the U.S., and abroad.  

Studying at Notre Dame, you have the opportunity to learn and apply your skills and knowledge at a University nationally recognized for Community Engagement by the Carnegie Foundation. This classification celebrates Notre Dame’s deep commitment to collaborating with local communities and highlights your opportunity to learn through engaged courses.  

“Community-engaged learning brings the curriculum to life. It’s the opportunity to put a face to the content and the knowledge you gain in the classroom. It taught me about myself, who I am, and how I fit into the broader picture of a global society.”  Michael Thomas '13

What does Spanish CEL look like?

Border Immersion Program
Faculty and students interview a recently deported migrant during the Border Immersion seminar.

Spanish CEL connects you to local and international communities.

Locally: Through Spanish CEL, your projects and time will support one of our local Latino partners to strengthen families, promote literacy and citizenship, and advance pre-K through adult education. In turn, you will develop language skills, cultural knowledge, and intercultural dispositions, invaluable to your future work.

You can take three- and four-credit electives classes that could count towards a Spanish Major, International Economics/Spanish Major, or Romance Languages Major.

In addition to CEL classes, you can volunteer in a South Bend organization that works with the Latino community in health care, education, or youth programming. Learn more about our community partners.

And you’re not limited to local engagement...

Thanks to our close collaboration with the Center for Social Concerns (CSC) and the Institute for Latino Studies (ILS), you can participate in one or more of their programs:


Through study abroad in Chile, Mexico, and Spain you can take CEL courses that add new understandings to what local engagement looks like in different countries. See more at ND International: Community engagement abroad.

Why does it matter?

Participating in Spanish CEL offers you the opportunity to...

  • Build skills, knowledge, and dispositions in real-life settings
  • Learn about current issues and act to make a difference in the community
  • Educate your Heart and Mind
  • Live the mission of Notre Dame 
  • Fight for justice, equity, literacy, and peace
  • Influence, inform career work

Engaging in Spanish CEL opens doors for future possibilities, including Department Service Awards, Fulbright, graduate programs, Peace Corps, and Americorps.

Learn More:

For more information about Spanish CEL opportunities, contact Andrea Topash-RiosTo at