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Community Engagement FAQ for Community Partners

Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) is a university with a rich heritage in inspiring lifelong education and transforming society through social sciences. SUSS offers over 80 undergraduates and graduate programmes, available in full- and part-time study modes which are flexible, modular and inter-disciplinary, catering to both fresh school leavers and adult learners. SUSS also offers a broad range of continuing education and training modular courses for the professional skills upgrading of Singapore’s workforce.

We seek to develop work-ready graduates and work-adaptive alumni to their fullest potential through our 3H’s education philosophy – ‘Head’ for professional competency with applied knowledge, ‘Heart’ for social awareness of the needs of the society, and ‘Habit’ for passion towards lifelong learning.

A signature component of the SUSS full-time undergraduate programme are experiential graduation requirements, which include Community Engagement. At SUSS, Community Engagement is conceived as an integral part of the University's learning ecology and as a process to empower students to further develop and act on their sense of social responsibility, grounded in real-world ideas and practices to contribute meaningfully to society.

Community Engagement is an educational experience and process by which community groups and individuals build sustained relationships, applying collective vision for the benefit of the community. Through Community Engagement, students learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully-organised service experiences that meet actual community needs and that are coordinated in collaboration with the university and community. It creates a connection between the university and the community, where the community is invited as co-educators to facilitate cross-sector collaboration and shared resources that help to enhance society's well-being and guide students in their journey of growth to become leaders in society.

SUSS values the five key elements of Community Engagement. Reciprocal partnership among all stakeholders is the key factor for any successful Community Engagement endeavor. All parties involved should be able to contribute and benefit from the collaboration. Professor Timothy K. Stanton’s Principle of Reciprocity aims to level power relations, ensuring humility and respect in the act of service: “I serve you in order that I may learn from you. You accept my service in order that you may teach me.”

To enable meaningful contribution to society, students are expected to research, discuss and propose a Community Engagement collaboration in consultation with community partners. All students undergo a pre-engagement Foundations of Community Engagement online course with the following learning objectives:

  1. Clarify personal values;
  2. Develop a working knowledge of the basic principles and theories of community engagement;
  3. Apply Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle in reflecting on community engagement;
  4. Identify good practices and case studies in collaborating with community; and
  5. Framework for managing community engagement programmes.

Subsequently, students could research and understand more deeply about a social issue of their interest. Leveraging on individuals' strengths, skills and/or professional major, students will propose a sustainable Community Engagement endeavour that meets the needs identified by their local community partner over a period required by the community partner. In return, the community partner collaborates with SUSS Office of Service-Learning (OSL) to mentor students in both project and personal development.

At SUSS, we value Student Voice as a key element of Community Engagement. Therefore, SUSS emphasises student autonomy, empowering students to propose self-directed and self-driven Community Engagement initiatives, around the multiple options provided. No one Community Engagement pathway is considered better than the other – the important thing is to prioritise the needs of the community in determining an appropriate initiative, and to balance the needs of the community with a commitment level that is also realistic, achievable and sustainable for you.

The community engagement experiential graduation requirement for students from Cohort 2018 onwards may be fulfilled through one of seven Community Engagement pathways:

  1. Community Service-Learning
  2. Community Engaged Work
  3. Social Entrepreneurship
  4. Community Engaged Project
  5. Community Engaged Applied Research
  6. Community Engaged Course
  7. Global Service-Learning

Details on the seven Community Engagement pathways may be found here.

At SUSS, we value Community Voice as a key element of Community Engagement. Therefore, there is no minimum number of hours that students have to fulfil. The rational is to enable students to negotiate a Community Engagement commitment with community partners that prioritises the needs of the community over the requirements of the institution’s signature programmes.

Students must sustain their Community Engagement commitment over a period agreed upon with Community Partner(s). Students are highly encouraged to continue beyond the agreed duration, preparing themselves for active and fulfilling lives through a lifelong commitment to contributing meaningfully to society.

As part of assessment and project management, students are to complete the following:

  • Community Engagement Proposal Form (to be endorsed by community partner)
  • End-of-Service Report (to be endorsed by community partner)
  • Completion of Community Engagement Portfolio

Depending on the nature of the CE initiative, the community partner’s role may differ. Typically, the community partner appoints a staff member or any other relevant personnel in the organisation as the Community Partner (CP) mentor. The role of a CP Mentor is as follows:

Before project begins
  • Work with students to scope out a community engagement project and endorse their Community Engagement Proposal Form
During the project
  • Guide and advise students on matters relating to the community engagement project 
  • Mentor students on potential areas of learning and service relating to the community engagement project
After the project ends
  • Evaluate student’s projects through their submitted Community Engagement Closure Report 
  • Evaluate individual student’s performance through their submitted Self-Evaluation Form

SUSS students partner with organisations from various social sectors for their community engagement initiative. Our community partners include, but are not limited to, social service agencies, community organisations, government agencies, and social enterprises. Some of our partners include North West Community Development Council and the Singapore Association for Mental Health

See here for the full list of community partners that SUSS students have been working with.


Community Engaged Work

Non-profit, social service agencies, public sector agencies, social enterprises or B-Corps that are keen to offer internship placements to our students are invited to register your company on the SUSS Career Development Portal before submitting a job posting. 

Volunteer Management Fellowship

Social service agencies can:

  1. Be a host organisation

Offer internship opportunities in the area of volunteer management by submitting a posting on the SUSS Career Development Portal.

  1. Develop organisational capabilities

Identify existing staff for talent development in volunteer management and have potential applicants register to be a part of the fellowship here.

Access Academy

Access Academy is an SUSS inclusion initiative that aims to provide equal access of educational opportunities for beneficiaries of our Community Partners who aspire to change their lives through a university education.

The programme connects various stakeholders at SUSS with individuals who have aspirations towards a University education but have limited to no access to resources (i.e. information, mentoring/guidance, opportunities, and skills/capacities etc). Individuals are provided guidance and support to prepare them to access the multiple, stackable learning pathways that are available to them as well as given opportunities to build capacity through participating in various experiential courses and programmes.

Information on Access Academy as a Community Service-Learning can be found here.

Please contact the Office of Service-Learning at for further information or to explore a partnership opportunity with us.

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