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Projects with Promise

Vol. 25 No. 3: Special Issue: Community Engagement in the COVID-19 Reality

"Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best, but Realistically, Expect a Combination of Both": Lessons and Best Practices Emerging from Community-Engaged Teaching During a Health Crisis

December 15, 2020


This article outlines a framework that I implemented when delivering a community-engaged course during the earlier days of COVID-19. I argue that this framework's guiding principles—centering the community-partners' needs, assessing and remaining flexible to students' circumstances, and cautiously mapping and selectively making use of existing institutional resources to deliver the course—allowed me to provide a community-engaged course despite challenges posed by pandemic restrictions. At the same time, I ensured that the intersectional feminist and critical ethos of the class was not compromised or that the commitment to the community partners' sustainability was cast aside. Additionally, I share two detailed exemplars of community-based learning projects highlighting the possibilities, challenges, and limitations when applying this framework. I close this piece with several points of departure to stimulate future conversations among educators, researchers, and practitioners on the role of community-based service-learning during times of societal crisis.