About the Curriculum

Outreach and Engagement at MSU is...

... a form of scholarship that cuts across teaching, research, and service. It involves generating, transmitting, applying, and preserving knowledge for the direct benefit of external audiences in ways that are consistent with University and unit missions.

The Provost's Committee on University Outreach (1993)

... the partnership of university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to: enrich scholarship and creative activities; enhance curriculum, teaching, and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.

Adapted from the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, Committee on Engagement (2005)


The Tools of Engagement (ToE) are a series of modules designed to:

  • Introduce undergraduate students to the concept of university-community engagement
  • Develop their community-based research and engagement skills, and
  • Assist with training the next generation of engaged scholars.

The modules encourage students to critically reflect on the content. The modules provide students with concrete examples that illustrate abstract concepts and ask students to come up with their own real-life instances.

There are 5 modules in total, focusing on such issues as effectively working in groups, successful partnerships, negotiation techniques, and so on. These modules can be taken in consecutive or random order. Instructors can choose to integrate the modules into their coursework by presenting the material to the students during class or they can assign students to complete the modules prior to class.

Curriculum Structure

The Tools of Engagement (ToE) curriculum is informed by Michigan State University's definition of outreach and engagement. View the right column of this page for a definition.

MSU advocates a scholarly model of outreach and engagement that fosters a reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship between the University and community partners. The MSU model involves the co-creation and application of knowledge, a relationship that increases both partners' capacity to address issues. Visit the University Outreach and Engagement Web site for more information on how MSU defines outreach and engagement.

The ToE curriculum is structured around how MSU defines university-community engagement. At MSU outreach and engagement is:

  • Scholarly
  • Community-based
  • Collaborative
  • Responsive
  • Capacity-building

The first module is an overview that familiarizes students with Michigan State University's land-grant tradition of scholarly engagement—which involves linking campus and community through applied research, technical assistance, and instructional programs. The rest of the modules target the various facets of university-community engagement and contextualize the concepts using real-life situations and examples.