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ExEL: Community Engagement Pillar

Experiential Education and Learning (ExEL) at NSU offers students the opportunity to be exposed to hands on opportunities that will enrich their academic life while helping to reach their personal and professional goals.

One of the options students can choose to earn ExEL units is through Community Engagement. Community engagement opportunities allow students to connect with a social need they are passionate about in the local, national and/or global community through their volunteerism and targeted reflections.

Through the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement, students have three opportunities to complete units in Community Engagement:

  • Ongoing Service with a Community Affiliate (Eligible for 1-2 units)
  • Sharks and Service (SAS) Week Long Trips (Eligible for 1 unit)
  • Civic Engagement Scorecard (Eligible for 1 unit)

Ongoing Service with a Community Affiliate Process

Ongoing Service with a Community Affiliate allows students to utilize their own connections in the local, national and global communities to actively serve and issue they are passionate about. This can be volunteering at your local animal shelter, serving meals to the homeless, volunteering for a medical mission trip and everything in between!

For those that already know where they want to volunteer or for those that may be searching for the right fit, SLCE can help guide you through the process to make your community engagement experience one that is reflective and meaningful.

The more you know before you serve, the more comfortable you will feel throughout your service experience. Utilize your resources to help you find information on a particular social issue and possible community partners. Below are some questions for you to think about:
  • What are my interests? Does this volunteer placement fit with my intended field of study or passion area?
  • What are the skills the organization is seeking from volunteers? What are specific skills I can bring to an organization in need?
  • When am I able to serve? Weekends, weekdays, nights, etc. Will my intended service affect my other commitments?
  • Does this organization’s values/focus align with mine?
  • What type of volunteer positions are available?
  • What is the focus of your organization and how do you serve the community/individuals?
  • Find an organization that you can devote at least 40 hours to volunteering
  • You can serve a maximum of 2 units (or 80+ hours) with one organization
  • Must meet our definition of active service:

“Active participation in service of addressing needs of the community through face-to-face and/or hands on volunteering that addresses a specific social need.”

  • Log into SharkHub using your NSU credentials
  • Complete the ExEL Community Engagement Unit Interest Form on SharkHub
  • Plan to meet with a SLCE representative to review your interest in the service experience and review the ExEL requirements.
    • **You are required to meet with a representative PRIOR to beginning your volunteer experience.
  • After submitting the interest form you will be contacted by a SLCE representative to review your intended experience and program requirements

Sharks and Service (SAS) Trips

Sharks and Service is an alternative break program that works to address social issues through collaborative community partnerships, meaningful service, transformative education, and reflective dialogue.

There are  variety of trips offered throughout the academic year, winter break, spring break and summer break which are eligible for ExEL units. Students that participate in these experiences have the opportunity to travel to an area either, locally, nationally or internationally to serve a specific social issue.

Sharks and Service Trips, SAS, are designed for Sharks who are looking for a meaningful service that is a weekend or week long experience. Each SAS trip gives students the opportunity to learn and serve with a different social issue and community. You can find out more information about SAS by visiting our page here

Those that are interested in applying for a SAS trip can do so through the Sharks and Service SharkHub portal, located here. Each SAS trip will require completion of an online application and payment submitted through Marketplace. Being that SAS trips require travel, food and lodging expenses, there are costs associated with these experiences. We encourage students to fundraise for weeklong trips to help limit the cost of involvement. If you have financial concerns that may limit your ability to be involved in a SAS trip, please contact us to see if we can further assist.

Civic Engagement Scorecard

The Civic Action Scorecard was initially created by Miami Dade College’s Institute for Civic Engagement & Democracy and has been adapted for Nova Southeastern University, to challenge students to increase and vary the ways they are civically engaged. The Scorecard is a tool to guide students through diverse action items to grow and strengthen their vital participation in the civic life of our community. Such action items include knowing your elected officials, reducing your carbon footprint, attending a local government meeting, donating blood, and visiting a museum. Students can choose from any of the items listed or create their own civic action as their navigate their civic identity.

Students will have the opportunity to navigate their own civic journey by completing this unit. Students will be asked to review list of 40+ actions and Create a Plan for Action.

Complete a minimum of 80 points based on the point scale allotted for each action. There are 370+ possible points to choose from.

A unit will be award after completion of documentation and reflection of actions.

Upon initiation of the unit, students will receive a list of 40+ actions to create a Civic Plan for Action. The actions are divided among four broad categories for engagement. Here’s an added challenge: try to earn points from each category!

  1. Democratic Engagement & Advocacy
  2. Environment & Sustainability
  3. Community Well-Being
  4. Arts & Culture
  1. Plan to meet with a SLCE representative to review your interest in the experience and review the ExEL requirements. You are required to meet with a representative PRIOR to beginning this experience.
  2. Contact Assistant Director, Alisha Nelson at to set up a meeting and get started. 
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