An Exploration of Community Engagement and Immersive Learning in Higher Education; Integrating Leadership Studies to Enhance Student Reflection and Development

Claire Gosen, University of San Diego


This paper explores the implementation of community service-learning, community engagement, and immersive learning through the lens of higher education. There is a plethora of existing literature and research around the positive impact that experiential learning holds on shaping student participants’ character development, identity formation, and understanding of others. More specifically, this paper examines the potential value and influence that experiential learning (ie: forms of community engagement and immersive learning) carry in relation to college students’ identity formation, cultural and political awareness, and character development. While most of the literature in this field focuses on these areas, I found there to be a lack of emphasis and research around the ways in which higher-education professionals can best support students throughout the process of their community-based learning and engagement. This paper serves as a space to explore the potential value that community-based engagement and learning holds within higher education while simultaneously looking at how the use of leadership theories and concepts such as servant leadership, emotional intelligence, and humble inquiry can help enhance the reflection and development that faculty and staff are supporting students in.