Course Creation FAQ

The Indianapolis Community Requirement is a learning initiative with Butler’s core curriculum that involves active learning experiences that integrate classroom knowledge with activities in the Indianapolis community. Students “take one course in any part of the University that involves active engagement with the Indianapolis community” (Report of the Core Curriculum Task Force, 2005). For detailed guidelines see ICR Guidelines on this page.

There are many benefits to teaching ICR courses. A summary of benefits for students, faculty/staff, and the community are detailed on the Indianapolis Community Requirement page. Motivation for teaching these courses can also be found in reading Faculty/Student testimonials.

There are quantitative and qualitative reasons to incorporate civic engagement or service-learning into a course. On a qualitative level, service-learning helps students better understand the theories and concepts they are learning in the classroom through the relevant service work they complete on-site—thereby helping them better understand and learn course material. Service-learning can also help students develop into engaged and active citizens, with a greater understanding of systems, relationships, diversity and the value of life experience. In addition, students frequently develop civic skills while gaining a deeper knowledge of the course material. Quantitatively, there is evidence that service-learning enhances retention and usefulness of learning.

The first step to developing an Indianapolis Community Requirement course or a service-leaning course is to review your learning goals and outcomes. It is crucial to ask questions such as, “how will service and/or community engagement enhance my course material?” and “what do I want my students to gain from this experience?” These initial questions will help determine if civic engagement fits with the objectives of the course and can help guide your decisions. “Fit,” whether it be the inclusion of service in a course, the selection of service site, the level to which you ask you students to serve, or the type of reflection you require, is critical.

Yes. Butler University’s Center for Citizenship and Community can help you think about how community engagement might be integrated into your course. The CCC can also help you find and contact possible service sites.

The Center for Citizenship and Community is located in Jordan Hall, room 144A. You may contact, Assistant Director Hanako Gavia at

The ICR is conceptualized as a pedagogical approach or process that is used to teach the content of an existing course-whether the course is in the core, in the major, or is an elective. ICR courses should involve a direct strategy for furthering students’ understandings of the nature of community and the relation to self, whether through class exercises, discussions, or reflection assignments that directly focus attention and dialogue on students’ emergent understanding of this learning objective. The CCC is currently pursuing three models for courses that satisfy the Indianapolis Community Requirement: 1) Courses based on a traditional service-learning model, 2) courses based on the SENCER model, and 3) courses based on our critical-listening paradigm. See ICR Guidelines for further details on these models.

“Active Engagement” means that engagement with the community must be sustained, substantive, and reciprocal in the sense that students engage with community members in an ongoing and dialogic way. The Indianapolis community requirement is not satisfied with “one touch” encounters, electronically mediated encounters, or similar relationships where there is no opportunity for dialogue and development of relationship and deepening understanding of community and community members (whether this dialogue is with an individual or series of individuals).

The community with which the students engage must: a) be external to the traditional university classroom, b) provide an experience that brings the students into relationship with individuals and communities that differ from the university environment, and c) be representative of the broader populations, networks, and communities that comprise Indianapolis. An active learning experience that occurs within a local community beyond the Indianapolis area might conceivably satisfy the ICR when this experience is “brought back” in a meaningful way to enrich the Indianapolis Community. Where students in partnership with faculty mentors wish to propose these experiences to satisfy the ICR, they must petition the Associate Provost for Core Curriculum and Interdisciplinary Programs in advance of the experience.

Student experiences should involve direct contact with community members for a minimum of 20 hours over the course of the semester.

The relevant Application and Guidelines can be found on our site, and the CCC is happy to assist you in the process of filling out and submitting these forms. If you have questions regarding this the application and designation process, please contact the Interim Faculty Director, at

A collection of resources for faculty teaching Indianapolis Community Requirement and service-learning courses is available on our Teaching Resources page. You might also want to look at syllabi archives at National Campus Compact or at Loyola University.

Examples can also be obtain by contacting the Center for Citizenship and Community office at

Since a key element of the Indianapolis Community Requirement and service-learning is that the engagement should be reciprocally valuable to student and community partner alike, it is important to match the learning goals and outcomes of the course with the needs of the community agency. Developing sustainable outreach partnerships that enhance Butler’s academic/urban mission takes significant time and effort.

In partnering with other individuals and programs at the university, the CCC serves as a resource that brings forth ideas, shares experiences and offers contacts earned from a decade of outreach work, research and service-learning program development. The Assistant Director of the Center for Citizenship and Community can provide assistance in locating and contacting appropriate sites and also helps to maintain a list of active and inactive sites used by ICR course. To facilitate ICR course development, the CCC is building reciprocal community partnerships based on learning engagements within a series of interrelated pathways: Art and Culture, Inter-generational, Education, Environment, Health, Intercultural, Economic, and Socio-Political. We may already have an established partnership that would provide the kind of engagement that you are seeking.

If you have questions or would like to add a community partner to our potential partnership list, the Center for Citizenship and Community is located in Jordan Hall, room 144A. You may contact, Assistant Director Hanako Gavia at

They expect our students to be conscientious, reliable, and respectful of the individuals with whom they are interacting.

Much depends upon the instructor’s course objectives and the level of involvement the instructor deems desirable for her/his students to have at a given site. As with any new course preparation, the time commitment is greater than preparing, revising, or restructuring a non-civic-engagement course. We recommend that first-time practitioners contact the CCC in the semester prior to the semester in which they intend to execute the community-based activities.

This question needs to be answered by the individual instructors, but we recommend that the instructor consider how the service is fundamentally connected to academic objectives before integrating the service-learning experience into the course grading plan. Students, while not graded on their service, are required to perform a designated number of service hours as a minimum requirement of the course, and the quality of their service and work at a site will affect their grade. As with many other forms of experiential learning, there is a strong link among the service site coordinator, site staff, and the faculty member coordinating the service-learning class. There should be consistent and constant dialogue between all parties in regards to performance, obligations, needs and accountability.

Depending upon the course objectives and structure, the difference between a service-learning course and a service-learning component may be large or subtle. A service-learning course typically relies upon service learning as a pedagogical method. The learning objectives of a service-learning course may therefore be focused to expose students to the central theories and methods of service-learning practitioners, to use this pedagogy to more effectively teach disciplinary content, or to achieve outcomes related to personal and social responsibility, intercultural competency, or civic mindedness. Discipline-specific courses may be augmented with a service-learning component that either adds a new dimension unit to a course that relies on service-learning.

Yes, but as with any teaching, scholarly or service activities, it remains the responsibility of the individual faculty member to document and demonstrate the significance of the service-learning dimensions of their work to their overall performance as a member of the academy.

Indianapolis Community Requirement courses and service-learning classes will be identified on student transcripts.

Practitioners of experiential education have long recognized the risk and potential liability issues associated with service-learning. Butler University like many educational institutions continues to develop guidelines for instructors, students and community partners to follow. The CCC has developed ICR Contracts containing a liability waiver that all students must sign before undertaking work at community sites. We also recommend that instructors encourage students to work in teams, avoid traveling alone and always exercise judgment and discretion when interacting with personnel and individuals at service sites. We encourage members of the Butler community to work closely with the CCC as a resource that can help in the identification of service sites that are appropriate for experiential learning opportunities.