Benefits of Civic & Community
Engagement Primer



Originally released in February 2021, the Primer on the Benefits and Value of Civic & Community Engagement in Higher Education was created by the NCCE Community of Practice, Inquiry & Learning (COPIL). While the Primer project was envisioned in fall 2019 in response to a growing critique of the “social justice” goals of higher education, the urgency of its purpose was increased due to the challenges of 2020 – the global pandemic, racial unrest, and political polarization and threats to democracy.

In 2022 the 2nd Edition of the Primer was released to reflect the name change from NC Campus Compact to NC Campus Engagement. The organization’ s new name is reflected throughout this Primer, except when the original  name  is  needed  for  historical  accuracy.  In  addition,  some  numerical information has  been  updated  in  response  to  the  passage  of  time  since  the production of the first version.

The Primer is one installment in the Contributions of Civic and Community Engagement in Higher Education Series.

Click on the cover to download.


The topics included in the Primer on the Benefits and Value of Civic & Community Engagement in Higher Education are organized into three categories, although there is significant overlap amongst them.

Each topical entry includes one or more examples of this occurring on one of NC Campus Engagement’s 2020-21 college or university member institutions. In addition to an extensive references section, there are photos from member institutions of civic and community engagement in action.



Community Related

  • Student Success
  • Academic Learning
  • Civic Learning
  • Global Learning & Relationship
  • Career Development
  • Empathy
  • Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
  • Faculty Flourishing
  • Multi-, Inter-, & Transdisciplinarity
  • Public Trust & Partnership
  • Political Engagement

  • Justice & Racial Healing
  • Sustainability & Sense of Place
  • Economic Development
  • P-20 Education
  • Crisis Response


The Primer goals are to:

  • Assemble evidence of how civic and community engagement (CCE) – when done well – contributes to the overarching goals of higher education
  • Highlight the range of CCE activities occurring in community-campus partnerships throughout North Carolina
  • Provide a tool to aid in deepening the practice of engagement
  • Make the case for investment in and commitment to civic and community engagement 


COPIL 2019-21 members who contributed:

  • Jennifer Ahern-Dodson, Duke University
  • Patti H. Clayton, PHC Ventures (Editor)
  • Margaret Commins, Queens University of Charlotte
  • Leslie Garvin, NC Campus Compact (Editor)
  • Cara Kozma, High Point University
  • Danielle Lake, Elon University
  • Ryan Nilsen, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Allison Walker, High Point University
  • Catherine Wright, Wingate University

Friends of COPIL who contributed:

  • Jessica D. Brazell-Brayboy (Editor)
  • Robert G. Bringle, IUPUI
  • Emily Kohl, Rockbridge Area Relief Association (Editor)
  • Kristin Medlin, Collaboratory (Graphic Designer and Editor)


We are grateful to Patti Clayton and PHC Ventures for co-sponsoring the Contributions of Civic and Community Engagement Series. 

PHC Ventures



Questions about the project or sponsorship opportunities?