Division of University Engagement

5C's of Community Engagement

5C's: Cleveland State University Civic Engagement Framework

Faculty, students and staff are involved in a variety of civic engagement activities at Cleveland State University. Although all are valuable in their own ways to student learning and community well-being, they vary in many ways. In an effort to differentiate among these diverse efforts, the University uses a framework called the 5C's: Connect, Cooperate, Collaborate, Consult and Career. Each civic engagement partnership is associated with one of these five categories to assist university and community stakeholders as they navigate through them. A simple matrix below gives some explanation as to how these categories differ.


Click to learn more about the 5Cs. 

Moving Along the Civic Engagement Continuum:
A Hypothetical Case Study

A CSU alumnus who teaches at a neighborhood elementary school in Cleveland contacts a former music professor to see if CSU’s student choral ensemble would perform at a school assembly. Since the school had to eliminate its music program because of budget cuts it has no choir of its own. The 12-member CSU group agrees to perform. On a Tuesday morning they sing four songs and afterward talk with the students about college. The youngsters give the ensemble a standing ovation. One CSU student, a music performance major, is so moved that she considers pursuing a career in music education.

The next day at the elementary school the kids are still buzzing. The principal notices and asks the music professor whether her students would be willing to volunteer to lead an after-school chorus. With assistance from the professor, the CSU students arrange their schedules to hold practices on Wednesday afternoons. About 15 children show up along with a couple parents who sing in their church choirs. After a semester of practice, the kids perform for their classmates and at a local church. For the CSU students, the community support makes them re-examine some of their negative stereotypes about the inner-city. 

Following the performances, a fifth-grade teacher notices four students in her class from the choir improved their grades dramatically over the course of the semester. He shares with the principal who learns that other choir members also improved academically. The correlation motivates the principal to seek the restoration of the school’s music program. She asks the music professor to help her develop a proposal to fund a music coordinator. The professor enlists a colleague from the College of Education and Human Services, who makes the project part of a course he teaches. They recruit a non-profit community arts organization to help. Teachers, children from the choir, and the parent volunteers all participate in the design of the proposal. Within six month the school obtains a grant to hire a music director. The non-profit agrees to train teachers in ways to use the arts to enhance classroom teaching.