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Why get involved in community engagement at OU?

Community Engagement is good for your community, your learning outcomes and your future.

OU graduates in their caps and gowns on graduation day.

Community Outcomes

Reduced stereotypes and greater inter-cultural understanding
Improved social responsibility and citizenship skills
Greater involvement in community service after graduation

Learning Outcomes

Positive impact on students’ academic learning
Improves students’ ability to apply what they have learned in “the real world”
Positive impact on academic outcomes such as demonstrated complexity of understanding, problem analysis, problem-solving, critical thinking, and cognitive development
Improved ability to understand complexity and ambiguity                                           

Career Development
Connections with professionals and community members for learning and career opportunities
Greater academic learning, leadership skills, and personal efficacy can lead to greater opportunity

Service-learning Courses

Service-learning  “is a form of experiential education where learning occurs through a cycle of action and reflection as students. . . seek to achieve real objectives for the community and deeper understanding and skills for themselves. In the process, students link personal and social development with academic and cognitive development. . . experience enhances understanding; understanding leads to more effective action.”  (Eyler and Giles)

Look for Service-Learning courses in the OU Spring 2024 enrollment.  

Check out OUr Stories to learn more about past courses and engaged research.  

Community Engaged Research

Community engaged research is a collaborative process between the researcher and community partner that creates and disseminates knowledge and creative expression with the goal of contributing to the discipline and strengthening the well-being of the community. 

  • Research is responsive to community need 
  • Increased capacity in communities
  • Research translated into action plans with communities


Interships are offered by many departments at OU.  It is possible to organize these opportunities so that students work with communities to develop solutions to challenges in a mutually beneficial manner.

Community Engaged Internships and Fellowships:

  • Require a significant time commitment, with students providing 10-20 hours of community service per week 
  • Provide a useful product to the community organization 
  • Include on-going faculty-guided reflection that challenge students to analyze their experiences using discipline based theories
  • Service internships focus on reciprocity: the idea that the community and the student benefit equally from the experience

If you are interested in an internship, talk with the academic advisor in your department.  

Political Science Internships:

Community Scholars

The Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center is pleased to offer the Community Scholars program, a public service learning opportunity for the Fall semester. Up to 10 undergraduate students from OU will be placed in community-based internships with nonprofit organizations or local government entities in and around Norman and Oklahoma City. The Community Scholars program provides a unique learning opportunity for a cohort of undergraduates who will experience first-hand the dynamics of working within community-based organizations. The internship experience will be enriched through weekly seminars and briefings with leaders from the nonprofit sector. We are able to offer a stipend of at least $1000 for students in the program.

Community Scholars are placed in assignments with local governmental agencies, various nonprofit organizations, and other community-oriented agencies. Internships require a minimum of 16 hours of work per week and may include night meetings. Community Scholars will develop professional experience and skills, gain insights into the dynamics of community organizations and learn how nonprofit organizations function and interact within their broader communities. Duties may include proposal writing, direct client services, fundraising and marketing, policy research, grassroots organizing and outreach, and program management.
Earn up to Six Credits

In addition to the internship students must enroll in PSC 4023: Community Scholars: A Service-Learning Course. This academic component will feature information about nonprofit and community leadership in an informal setting. Frequent guest speakers from various community-based organizations will join the class. Students may, at their option, enroll in three additional hours under PSC 3910.

You can learn more and apply by visiting Community Scholars.

Please Contact Prof. Crespin with questions

Why Volunteer?

OU students work for local organizations during the annual Big Event.

Volunteerism offers tremendous rewards both to the volunteer and to those you help. By volunteering you are helping to improve yourself and making a difference in the world.  The OU Office of Leadership and Volunteerism is a great resource for opportunities to serve. 

Join organizations at OU that work in our community

The Oklahoma Group
Tapping into the innovative potential within the University of Oklahoma student body, The Oklahoma Group empowers nonprofit organizations with knowledge, tools, and recommendations to achieve their goals and maximize their social impact. Our mission is to bring tangible change and improvement to our community, one nonprofit at a time.

Roosevelt OU
Inspired by the legacy of Franklin and Eleanor, the Roosevelt Institute reimagines America as it should be: a place where hard work is rewarded, everyone participates, and everyone enjoys a fair share of our collective prosperity. We believe that when the rules work against this vision, it’s our responsibility to recreate them.  OU Roosevelt works with local community organizations to research policy.

Alpha Phi Omega
With a focus on the principles of leadership, friendship, and service to humanity, Alpha Phi Omega prepares campus and community leaders through service. From fundraising for Soonerthon to volunteering for the Oklahoma City Zoo, APO National Service Fraternity is the largest co-ed service fraternity at the University of Oklahoma.

Camp Kesem
Driven by passionate college student leaders, Camp Kesem operates free summer camps for children who have been impacted by a parent's cancer. Kesem is the largest national organization dedicated to this unique population, and for many children their Camp Kesem experience is a life-changing event – providing them a community of children with similar experiences, and a safe and welcoming environment to have fun and rediscover their childhood.

Catalyst for a Better Future
Founded on the belief that education is for all, Catalyst for a Better Future works to interrupt the cycle of poverty that can impede a child's ability to succeed in school. Catalyst for a Better Future does this by providing tutoring for elementary, middle and high school students attempting to instill a passion for education and learning.

Crimson Wishes
The Make-A-Wish Chapter for OU, Crimson Wishes fundraises in order to grant wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Engineers Assisting Those in Need
Formerly known as Students For Feeding The Hungry, Engineers Assisting Those In Need (EATIN), is driven to help entities grow and maximize their resources through process improvement strategies. EATIN is currently working with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma in OKC. However, they plan to reach out to other non-profits and local businesses to help them get the most out of their volunteers, workers, and resources.

Expressive Movement Initiative
Volunteers from the University of Oklahoma bring the art of creative movement to children with developmental disabilities at the JD McCarty Center.

Habitat for Humanity OU
Working directly with Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity, OU Habitat is committed to helping the community by recruiting volunteers, raising money, and coordinating volunteers to build homes for families in need. Members of this organization have the opportunity to build homes, plan on-campus fundraising events, interact with local business owners/sponsors, design PR material, and recruit volunteers.

Generation Citizen
Generation Citizen (GC) works to ensure that every student in the United States receives an effective action civics education. To do this, college volunteers, called Democracy Coaches, teach a local high school class twice a week. This provides the students with the knowledge and skills necessary to participate in the US democracy as active citizens.

OBI Outreach
OBI OUtreach is a service-oriented organization that exists to advance service positions that support donor recruitment, education, and awareness of the importance of blood donation, specifically within the University of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Blood Institute.

Okie Belles
Okie Belles is an all women's organization at the University of Oklahoma based on sisterhood, leadership and service. Their mission is to reach out to those in need by planting seeds of service for the community to reap the benefits. Their desire is to grow leaders across campus while creating a beautiful and unique sisterhood.

OU Dance Marathon

OU Dance Marathon is the University of Oklahoma's largest student-led philanthropy. Reborn in 2004, OU Dance Marathon has become the official philanthropy of the Campus Activities Council. Students at OU Dance Marathon make a pledge to stand a full 12 hours on their feet in support of the kids who can’t. The past year we raised $735,214.22!

Relay for Life
OU Relay for Life is a student-led organization that works to promote the efforts of the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service. OU Relay has raised close to half a million dollars in the last 2 years alone.

Participating and assisting in The Children's Miracle Network, The Big Event, The American Cancer Society, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Meals on Wheels, the JD McCarty Center, and much more, OU Rotaract is a service club for young people ages 18 to 30. Sponsored by local Rotary clubs, Rotaract clubs conduct community and international service projects, and participate in professional and leadership development activities. Rotaract provides an opportunity to be involved in exchange programs, in community support and network with business men and women.

Sooners Without Borders
The purpose of Sooners Without Borders is to aid in the organization, publicity, and coordination of both domestic and international service projects undertaken by student organizations at the University of Oklahoma.

Student Healthcare Outreach

Student Healthcare Outreach fundraises each year for Fundación Manos Juntas, a nonprofit organization that has provided free clinic healthcare every Saturday for over 20 years to patients in the Oklahoma City metro area. All proceeds from these fundraisers go toward expanding the clinic's mission of joining hands to break the cycle of poverty through healthcare and education.

Student Heroes
Student Heroes is a service organization at the University of Oklahoma dedicated to making real change happen through student-led, semester-long service projects partnering with area organizations to solve community problems.

International Opportunities

OU students in Arezzo participate in big event.

OU Arezzo has a goal to create a network between students and the community and to provide experience through cultural exchange, service to community and community engaged internships. To accomplish this goal, OU has established a set of programs to get students outside of the four walls of OU and into the city of Arezzo.

OU students find a multitude of ways to serve their Italian host community. Students recently helped the community when the mayor of Arezzo needed a smart phone app that would help attract tourism to the ancient city. Visiting Gallogly College of Engineering students jumped in, using a combination of classroom experience and background as media-savvy millennials. The app should be guiding the feet of travelers within the next year.

In 2016, students worked to bring the Norman campus Big Event to Arezzo and organized a day of service to the city.  They worked with a local high school to clean up campus and paint railings. 

OU has established partnerships with 30 nonprofits and local organizations where students complete internships.  We match the skills of students with the needs of the organization to collaborate on issues identified by the community.  Students give a final oral presentation that partners attend and develop the next steps together.  

Global engagement is important to the OU mission to "service state and society."  There are ways to develop engaged learning, research and internships at other study abroad locations, contact Study Abroad for more information.