Service Learning Institute

Mission, Philosophy & Goals

"The programs of the Service Learning Institute engage the content, practice, and pedagogy of service learning to promote social transformation and create a more just world."
Seth Pollack, SLI Director


The mission of the Service Learning Institute is to foster and promote social justice by cultivating reciprocal service and learning partnerships among CSUMB students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding tri-county community.


Social justice is the guiding principle for our practice in service learning.

We believe that:

  • CSU Monterey Bay students, as future leaders of our community, deserve a real-world education that inspires social responsibility, respect for diversity, and compassion for all.
  • CSUMB should be a responsible, engaged member of the local community.
  • Meaningful service and reflection strengthen academic learning. 
  • Education at CSUMB should be transformative.
  • All partners in the service learning process should be engaged in teaching and learning, and serving and being served.

Core values that guide our work:

  • Building authentic partnerships that demonstrate shared leadership, collaboration, and reciprocity
  • Acting with compassion: demonstrating honesty and authenticity
  • Working towards social justice: continual movement toward an equitable society
  • Developing multicultural understanding and respect for differences
  • Cultivating self-awareness of social inequities through active service with the community


  • Our goal is for CSUMB students to become "Multicultural Community Builders: students who have the knowledge, skills and attitudes to work effectively in a diverse society to create more just and equitable workplaces, communities and social institutions."

    We are committed to engaging the content, practice, and teaching of service learning to bring these values to life.

    Developing young people's commitment to public and community service has been a core goal of California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) since 1995. 

  • CSUMB's academic program is guided by the campus' Vision Statement that establishes "coordinated community service" as a vehicle to enable students to develop the "critical thinking abilities to be productive citizens and the social responsibility and skills to be community builders" (CSUMB Vision Statement).

    Unlike many higher education institutions that seek to promote service through extra-curricular student programs and work-study efforts, CSUMB has made community service an educational goal, placing service learning at the heart of its academic program.

    At CSUMB, it is not just the self-selected few who participate in community service programs. Through the Department of Service Learning, all CSUMB students take courses that give them the opportunity to engage in community service activities as a component of their academic curriculum.

    These service learning courses connect students with meaningful opportunities to contribute to their community and also provide students with the learning structures necessary to grow as capable and concerned citizens and community members.

    Each academic year, 50% of CSUMB students are enrolled in service learning courses, contributing thousands of hours to local schools, agencies and non-profit organizations in the Monterey Bay region.

    Equally as important as these hours of service, CSUMB students come to know intimately the rewards of active community involvement and become more confident and committed to their role as community builders in our diverse, multicultural world.

  • Service and social justice is a core component of academic study.

    CSUMB's service learning program has made the development of "self-reflective, culturally aware and socially responsible graduates" a core educational goal.

    CSUMB has integrated service learning in both its lower-division general education program and as a learning outcome in each undergraduate major.

    As a result, all CSUMB students take two service learning courses:

    1. A lower division course that introduces them to concepts of service and multicultural community participation
    2. A course in their major that addresses social issues more specific to their field and career aspirations

    This way every CSUMB student has the opportunity to engage with important and relevant community projects while examining issues of:

    • Justice
    • Compassion
    • Diversity
    • Social Responsibility
  • Students need to be well-prepared for our increasingly multicultural and global society. Students must develop the skills to work collaboratively across the differences that have traditionally separated diverse segments of society.

    Because CSUMB's service learning courses pursue learning outcomes related to these four aspects of service:

    • Justice
    • Compassion
    • Diversity 
    • Social Responsibility

    CSUMB students develop the skills to be multicultural community builders. They are capable of building the multicultural commons that are crucial to the creation of a more just and equitable society.

    (See the Service Learning Prism)