Community Engaged Service Learning

Community Engaged Service Learning (CESL); where academic study and community service unite in the spirit of social accountability


CACMS (6.6)

Dalhousie Medicine encourages and supports undergraduate medical education students to participate in service learning activities as an opportunity to gain knowledge of community and patient needs.


Service learning is defined as “A structured learning experience that combines community service with preparation and reflection(CACMS, 2015)

At Dalhousie Medicine, the Community Engaged Service Learning Program (MEDI2612) is offered during the first two years of Undergraduate Medical Education at Dalhousie University. The program integrates community engagement concepts into classroom-based learning (Professional Competencies 1) in first year with an optional community-engaged experience and small project contributionin second year. Students who opt to take part in the program do a minimum of 20 hours in order to complete the service learning experience during the academic year. Students apply for the program and are either matched with community-based not-for-profit organizationswho work with marginalized and underserved populations or develop their own experiences based on existing partnerships. The experience includes preparation, critical reflection assignments and a project deliverable that is relevant and useful for the community partner and thepeople engaged with their organization. The projects are designed in collaboration with community partners and the Service Learning Program.

The goals for the Community Engaged Service Learning Program are to:

  1. Enhance students’ learning by enabling them to practice skills and test classroom learned knowledge through related service-based experiences in the community;
  2. Enable students and community partners to engage in experiences that create reciprocal learning opportunities that are informed by the priorities of the people served by the community partner organization;
  3. Create opportunities for students, Faculty, staff and community partners to contribute to the Faculty of Medicine’s commitment to social accountability and the Faculty’s’ strategic pillar of Serving and Engaging Society;
  4. Assist faculty in their role as collaborators and facilitators of community-engaged service learning and in their engagement with the community;
  5. Provide leadership training and scholarly activity to advance community-engaged service learning in the Faculty of Medicine with our community partner organizations.

On completion of the Community Engaged Service Learning Program, the student will be able to:

  1. Describe the social determinants of health encountered and develop a critical analysis of how these determinants affected the health of individuals; 
    (Professional 1, 4; Community Contributor 1; Skilled Clinician 1c)
  2. Describe the levels and types of health advocacy and demonstrate the application of health advocacy skills in a community-based setting; (Community Contributor 3, 4; Skilled Clinician 1d)
  3. Demonstrate the ability to learn through experience and reflection;
    (Professional 3, 6; Lifelong Learner 3, 6; Skilled Clinician 1c)
  4. Demonstrate the integration of learning in the classroom and community organization context; (Community Contributor 3, Lifelong Learner 3)


Important Dates

Applications close for 2023/2024 on June 30th 2023: Opening for 2024/2025 in Spring 2024

Year-End celebration and experience presentations

DMNS (Halifax) – Thursday, May 4th from 10:30am-12:30pm – rooms 140 and 150 in the Collaborative Health Education Building 5793 University Ave

DMNB (Saint John) – Monday, May 8th from 10:30am-12:30pm – likely in room 105 (and outside room 105 and 102 for the display area) at 100 Tucker Park Rd (DMNB building on the UNB SJ campus)

Additional Information

Community Engaged Service Learning Program Manual with FAQs for students & community partners

Link to be updated: Community Engaged Service Learning Program Manual New Partner and student FAQ [PDF 890 KB]

Available Community Engaged Service Learning Program experiences (by campus for 2022 - 23)

Student application form and worksheet 2021 - 22

Link to be updated: Student application form and worksheet  

*NB: This is a static PDF file, please use the fillable Word file version of the application form that can be found in the Med student Brightspace in ProComp 1 in the Service Learning folder.

Community Engaged Service Learning Program Information Session PPT 2023 - 24

For more information contact:

Program Manager

Program Manager, Community Engaged Service Learning