Service Learning and Community Engagement

This Research Exchange Group brings together people working in the health sciences and in other university disciplines and those who work in community organizations with an interest in health equity. Its goals are to uncover ways we can engage students in creative, meaningful interdisciplinary projects based on the principles of service learning and community-enagaged research.  The group was established to open a dialogue between academic departments and community groups in order to gain a deeper understanding of our mutual interests and the potential for improved partnerships and collaboration. The group is intended to become a catalyst for:

  • improving engagement between community organizations and the university with a focus on identifying and responding to community needs, and
  • identifying, increasing and improving community-responsive service learning and meaningful applied research opportunities for students at Memorial.

The group is co-convened by Dr. Jill Allison, Faculty of Medicine and Elayne Greeley, Partnership Broker with CCEPP.

Group Activities:

October 20th 2020 at 1:30pm NST: Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste: Lessons learned from community engagement in the time of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed challenges and provided opportunities in terms of learning and engagement in community, health system and educational contexts. As we share the collective responsibility to protect public health and to support those more negatively affected than ourselves, we are also finding both strengths and limitations in terms of our capacity for meaningful engagement. Which leads us to a few core questions: How can we affect community engagement at a time of physical distancing and isolation? How can we best serve our communities in this time of need? We’d like to take this time to check in with community, university, health system, and student members of the SLICE Research Exchange Group to talk about what approaches are working in your life or in your organization to support continued social engagement. How are you providing or participating in opportunities for connection? How are you providing learning opportunities that comply with public health measures? What changes will your maintain as you move into the post-pandemic period, in terms of how you work, what you value, and how you plan to make the critical connections that will support your health, well-being, and sense of meaningful engagement? We want you to let us know what you think and how we might use what you’ve learned to help each other.


March 24, 2020 | 12:30pm to 2:00pm | What do we know about models of patient-centered care in Canada | Maisam Najafizada, PhD | Patient-centered care has gained momentum in the 21st century as a component of quality care. However, the details of the concept in the real-world healthcare context remain ambiguous. The objective of this study was to identify and synthesize models of patient-centered care in Canada and compare them with the normative models described in the literature. The researchers found two issues minimally addressed in patient-centered approaches: addressing patient-centeredness in one-on-one clinical interaction, and addressing patients’ non-medical expectations from the health system as a social institution. It is often assumed that providers (mainly physicians, but also others) will respect the autonomy and dignity of patients as part of their professional ethical code of conduct. Yet, a paternalistic behavior towards patients has been found to be common among providers. Moreover, health systems are not merely technical, biomedical organizations, they are also highly social and political institutions with goals of financial protection, fair distribution of services and resources, and meaningful inclusion and participation of the citizens in the system. Patients collectively have a desire to be more directly included in the non-medical aspects of the healthcare system.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020 | 12:30pm to 2:00pm NST | Learn to Lipread Online |Alison Butler MER, COHC, Coordinator of Education and Awareness, Canadian Hard of Hearing Association - Newfoundland and Labrador (CHHA-NL) will talk about a brand new online course with community health in mind – the first of its kind in Canada. Read Our Lips is an innovative social enterprise supported by Metro Business Opportunities (MBO) that will contribute to the programs & services of the CHHA-NL. Read Our Lips consists of online lessons that teach adults how to lipread by learning to identify and watch for important movements of the mouth. This technique is an important part of overall speech reading. The full Read Our Lips online course has been created and produced in Newfoundland and Labrador and will be sold online throughout North America, and the world. It is affordable and available to anyone with access to a high-speed internet connection and a computer, tablet or smartphone.

December 3, 2019 | Dr. Julia Janes, School of Social Work, Memorial University, on critical approaches to engagement | Julia Janes’s professional experience includes community practice to promote the well-being and inclusion of marginalized older adults, and clinical practice in crisis intervention, social enterprise, psychiatric patient advocacy, and health promotion among refugees. Her activist work contests the violence’s of neoliberal late capitalism, contemporary colonialism, white supremacy and racism, psychiatric systems, and housing/income insecurity. Julia’s research interests are driven by the communities that she has collaborated with on numerous participatory action research projects and, therefore, engage with multiple sites of social isolation, exclusion and displacement.

September 26, 2019 | 1:00pm | September Kick-off Meeting:  Let’s talk about collaboration: community and health system projects, research, and learning opportunities | Roundtable with Elayne Greeley and Jill Allison  in which all community, health system, student, and academic partners can contribute information about what they’ve been up to and what supports they may need to initiate planned community based research projects. Elayne Greeley and Jill Allison will convene a conversation about what is happening among our membership in terms of programs and research in progress, programs and projects being planned, and the potential for new collaborations, including student opportunities to learn, participate, and volunteer.

March 14, 2019 Ethical Research Engagement between Communities and Academia : Angela Power, and Janine Elliott, with Ally Jamieson | In her work with Choices for Youth, Ally Jamieson wants to bring an ethical research engagement framework to the collaboration between community and academics who seek to work together.  In response to this community call for engagement, Angela Power and Janine Elliott researched and co-authored a paper “Essential Voices and Research Choices: At Risk and Homeless Youth Research Guidelines. This talk will explore potential applications of ethics in research across contexts and methodologies, with particular consideration of intersections between community mental health values and research ethics. Ethics themes in recruitment, informed consent, participant benefits and risks, and confidentiality will frame discussions seeking to identify ways in which community mental health practitioners and researchers might collaborate to develop best human subjects ethics practices in community-based service delivery programs and system. | LINK TO SLIDESHOW

October 24, 2018 | Opportunities at the NL Workforce Innovation Centre. The meeting will feature a presentation by Susanne Dawe, Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator at the NL Workforce Innovation Centre about the NLWIC's collaborative work in employment-- a key social determinant of health. The Workforce Innovation Centre, located at College of the North Atlantic’s Corner Brook campus, partners with business and community organizations to foster innovative approaches and create new opportunities to support the development of a skilled workforce.

ENGAGE & CONNECT | September, 2018 | In collaboration with Sam Fellows, a Master's in Public Health Practicum student, the group launched an online portal  to connect:

  • community, health system and government partners with departments and supportive resources at Memorial University
  • Memorial University faculty and students with community, health system, and government partners
  • students to service learning opportunities in the community

Check it out here:

CONSIDERATIONS FOR ENGAGEMENT | June, 2018| The June 20 meeting featured a report by Sam Fellows, MPH Practicum student, whose activities on behalf of the group included literature review on considerations for better engagement and developing an online portal to connect community and university partners. 

FOLLOW-UP FROM COMBINED EFFORTS WORKSHOP | March, 2018| This graphic was developed after the March 2018 meeting to show members the proposed timeline of activities for the group.

On October 23, 2017 | An interactive community-university workshop at the Cochrane Centre in downtown St. John’s to explore how the university and the community can combine efforts to promote meaningful community service that enriches the learning experience, teaches civic responsibility, and ultimately strengthens communities throughout Newfoundland & Labrador. This event was moderated by SLICE co-conveners Elayne Greeley, Partnership Broker with the Community Employment Collaboration and Dr. Jill Allison, Global Health Coordinator with Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine, together with Pablo Navarro and Rochelle Baker of the NL Centre for Applied Health Research. The workshop brought together 45 participants: faculty and students from multiple university disciplines, representatives from municipal and provincial government and the provincial health system, and people who work in community organizations, all of whom expressed a common interest in forging stronger partnerships to support health equity and social justice. The workshop fulfilled its objective: it built a solid framework for the group to continue exploring collaborative opportunities and approaches in the coming years to support more and better partnerships and to build genuine and meaningful engagement.

Workshop Report

About Service Learning

Service Learning refers to any teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, to teach civic responsibility, and to strengthen communities. (See Comprehensive Framework)  As the province's only university, Memorial is dedicated to encouraging and supporting community-engaged work and serving the public good, locally, nationally and internationally. Memorial University is, and always has been, home to students and staff who make community engagement a fundamental element of their research and teaching activities. They are responsive, collaborative and respectful of the needs and contributions of community, drawing on the knowledge and resources of everyone involved.

Enriched by community perspectives and expertise, Memorial is ultimately a stronger institution, a hub of knowledge and ideas that serve the greater community.


Newfoundland & Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000