About the CSL Program

The Community Service Learning (CSL) Program

Definition of Community Service Learning (CSL)
Service learning is a structured learning experience that combines community service with mentored preparation and reflection. Students provide service in response to community-identified concerns and learn about the context in which illness develops, the connection between their service and their academic coursework, and their roles as citizens and professionals¹. Students use what they learn both inside and outside the classroom to empower medically underserved communities.

The CSL Program at the Geisel School of Medicine engages faculty, staff, institutional, and community support of these activities.

¹Definition adapted from:
Seifer SD. (1998). Service-learning: Community-campus partnerships for health professions education. Academic Medicine, 73(3):273-277.


Benefits of Community Service Learning (CSL)

CSL is a mutually beneficial process. The student benefits by applying abstract concepts and theories from the classroom in real-world situations; developing a relationship with a mentor; and gaining practical experience for career path exploration, skill-building and interprofessional collaboration. The community agency benefits by addressing identified needs for clients; enhancing capacity to achieve its mission; and receiving assistance with training, research and program evaluation.

Examples of benefits to community organizations include:

  • community needs assessments
  • focus groups to better engage community members
  • health and wellness education (health and digital health literacy promotion)
  • health screenings and referrals
  • basic medical services provided under the guidance of faculty mentors
  • program monitoring and evaluation

Community Service Learning (CSL) Online Directory - Under Construction
Link forthcoming

The Community Service Learning (CSL) Program at Geisel plans to have an online directory that lists current and past CSL projects, as well as potential projects requested by community partners. The directory will also list faculty mentors with contact information to help connect students with appropriate mentors for their projects. Finally, the directory will be the portal for the online mini- and midi- grant applications for students who apply for funds for their projects.

The directory will be public-facing. To report project data, apply for grants, or create a mentor profile, users will be able to log in with their Geisel SSO credentials. Community partners who submit a potential project idea do not need to log in.


Examples of Community Service Learning Projects:

  • Health screenings for glucose, cholesterol and hypertension for uninsured communities
  • Bridging the digital divide; promoting health equity through digital health literacy
  • Culinary medicine classes for youth and adults
  • Overdose prevention or "Stop-the-Bleed" train-the-trainer workshops
  • Health insurance literacy through the creation of an app
  • Dental Screenings for new American populations
  • Breastfeeding education and support for teens who are pregnant or parenting

How do students participate in CSL?

  • Students may design and carry out a project on their own time, as part of a student organization, or through a class, and may apply for funding as a Health Equity Scholar
  • Prepare for community work by attending "Build Your CSL Toolkit" trainings
  • Report best practices and project outcomes in the Online CSL Directory
  • Attend and present a poster at the Annual CSL Conference

How do faculty participate in CSL?

  • Serve as a student mentor
  • Share subject matter expertise with students and community partners
  • Provide preparation and training for students who are designing an implementation project or health innovation
  • Make community partners aware of opportunities to co-create health equity projects with Geisel faculty and students
  • Post mentor profiles in Online CSL Directory
  • Attend Annual CSL Conference

How do community agencies participate in CSL?

  • Propose project partnerships with Geisel to benefit their served communities
  • Identify and share community assets and client needs
  • Post potential projects in Online CSL Directory
  • Attend Annual CSL Conference

How does the Geisel School of Medicine support Community Service Learning (CSL)?

  • Provide funding for students’ projects through competitive mini-grants ($500 for pilot projects) and midi-grants (up to $5,000 for established projects with demonstrated success) to help defray expenses such as supplies, printing and mileage
  • Host free Annual CSL Conference for sharing best practices and outstanding podium presentations from national thought leaders
  • Offer free “Build Your CSL Toolkit” training series to help prepare students for projects and to work in the community

"Build Your CSL Toolkit" 
is a forthcoming training series occurring in the fall and spring aimed at helping students prepare for CSL projects. Topics are based on the needs of students, mentors and partner organizations. All sessions are free and open to all students, faculty and staff, as well as community partners. A schedule of trainings and registration links will be available soon.

The Annual CSL Conference will share best practices and scholarship in CSL by bringing together an interprofessional group of students, faculty and staff from across the state with community partners to foster service learning collaborations. Thought leaders will provide lectures and hands-on workshops. Student poster sessions will showcase service projects taking place during the year and top CSL projects are recognized for exemplary work. More information about the conference is forthcoming.