The College of New Jersey

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FYCEL and ACEL: A Developmental Approach to Community Engaged Learning at TCNJ

Community Engaged Learning at TCNJ primarily takes two forms: First-year CEL (FYCEL) and Advanced CEL (ACEL).

  • First-year CEL experiences are designed to introduce students to community engagement activities and stoke an interest in civic involvement;
  • Advanced CEL experiences build on the FYCEL experience to apply discipline-specific concepts and skills to address a community-identified need.

The developmental pathway from FYCEL through ACEL is designed to be cumulative and iterative in developing students’ civic interests and skills and enabling them to apply their education to real-world public problems.

First-Year CEL

All first-year students are required to participate in a community engaged learning experience, either through their First Seminar Program course (FSP) or through a co-curricular CEL day. Listed on their transcript as IDS103, this 8-hour FYCEL experience is a graduation requirement.

Curricular, FSP-based FYCEL experiences are integrated into the FSP course design and complement the existing learning objectives of FSPs. Co-curricular CEL days are generally one-day activities during which students learn about the history and context of a particular issue in the Trenton region, and engage in a project or activity alongside community members to help address this issue.

For more information, contact Brittany Aydelotte at

Advanced CEL

ACEL experiences are course-based CEL activities in 200-level and above courses that complement the existing learning objectives of the course. Designed in close consultation between CELR Center staff and the course instructor, ACEL courses take course-specific skills and knowledge and apply them to address community-identified issues. ACEL experiences are generally 15-20 hours of community engagement, and a substantial course assignment is built around the CEL experience.

For more information, contact Brittany Aydelotte at