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JMU defines community engagement as fostering mutually beneficial and reciprocal partnerships, ranging from local to global, that connect learning to practice, address critical societal problems and improve quality of life.

From JMU’s perspective a partnership is a relationship with an external party with which JMU has common interest and concerns, where both parties are working toward identified needs and outcomes. These partnerships may include relationships with individuals, organizations, coalitions, associations and/or communities.

It is our belief that partnerships will fall on a continuum that may be informal or formal and will reflect multiple modes of engagement that may evolve over time as partnerships grow and change. Click here to open the continuum.

You may often see community engagement and civic engagement understood as one in the same. And, while there is a connection of course, we make a distinction at JMU. We understand community engagement as fostering beneficial and reciprocal partnerships, from local to global. So, for instance, when a faculty member includes a course requirement that students mentor in the local schools, we understand that as community engagement. Civic engagement, on the other hand, gets at our connection to James Madison and our passion for advancing his legacy. That means our students learn through the practice of citizenship - invested in the affairs of government.

The Engagement Advisory Group is a key coordinating team for engagement at JMU. The leaders for community engagement on the group are Carol FlemingAssistant Dean for Outreach and Engagement and Steve GrandeDirector of Community Service-Learning.

Meet the Engagement Teams

Service-learning courses can positively impact post-graduate salaries

Service-learning is already known to have a positive impact in the classroom but a University of Georgia study shows it can help grow graduates' bank accounts as well. Read the article here.

Community Engagement at JMU
A few examples
  • Annual Reel Change Film Festival This collaboration brings together SMAD faculty and students with people from the JMU campus and the local community. The goal of the festival is to educate and engage audiences on relevant issues of the day while celebrating the documentary as a tool for creating awareness, advocacy and change.
  • The School of Strategic Leadership Studies participated in the development of the Alliance for Nonprofit Partnerships and continues to support its work through membership on the steering committee and provision of a PhD student serving as the program administrator.
  • LTLE 625 video students developed a video-based application in support of marketing efforts by Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance (Demonstration of Augmented Reality to Support Tourism Marketing and Promotion in Historic Harrisonburg).
  • Physical education and exercise science students played a huge role in initiating the Overcoming Barriers project, a new grant-funded mentoring program that partners students with community members who have disabilities. 
  • Physics partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County to procure funding support for a weekly Space Explorers Afterschool program at Lucy Simms Center in downtown Harrisonburg.
  • To date, the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR) has trained over 300 senior managers representing 48 conflict-affected countries through its various management training courses.
  • Sophomores in Engineering design and build custom bicycles for a local client with mobility challenges.
  • One day, one cause. Each April, The Big Event brings together students and alumni across the globe together for a day of volunteering.
  • Every year, Marketing students dominate the Google Marketing Challenge while giving back to the community. Their targeted ad campaigns help bring attention and donations for non-profits like the Harrisonburg/Rockingham SPCA, Children’s Science Center in Northern VA and Poricy Park Conservancy in NJ.

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