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Across the country, new attention is being paid to graduate education and civic engagement (Applegate, 2002; Bloomfield, 2006). For decades college campuses have worked diligently to connect undergraduate academic study with public service in order to enhance learning and meet community needs, a connection often referred to as service-learning or civic engagement. Given that over 1,000 institutions have joined Campus Compact, a national organization of college presidents and institutions committed to this work (, the widespread success of the service-learning movement is undeniable. As a further testament, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching now has a classification focused solely on community engagement ( While graduate schools that prepare students for service-oriented professions such as law, medicine, and social work have long traditions of engaging students in clinics and other forms of experiential learning, graduate education overall has not been a major focus of the civic engagement movement (Stanton & Wagner, 2006).


The following Brief from the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE) is a distillation of the work by members of NERCHE's think tanks and projects from a wide range of institutions. NERCHE Briefs emphasize policy implications and action agendas from the point of view of the people who tackle the most compelling issues in higher education in their daily work lives. With support from the Ford Foundation, NERCHE disseminates these pieces to a targeted audience of higher education leaders and media contacts. The Briefs are designed to add critical information and essential voices to the development of higher education policies and the improvement of practice at colleges and universities.


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