Engage Edmonton

Engage Edmonton 2021 UPDATE

We are working hard to reimagine our Engage Edmonton program during this time of physical distancing.

We are still committed to creating valuable service learning opportunities for students in residence to connect them with social issues in our community. 

Please continue to check the website or Engage Edmonton Facebook Page for updates and information on upcoming Engage Edmonton programs and events. Residents can also keep their eyes out for Expedition:Connect announcements for upcoming Engage Edmonton programs.

Engage Edmonton is a service-learning program for students who live in residence. We offer service opportunities at least once a month, as well as various educational social justice events throughout the year. We do this by partnering with various initiatives both on campus and in the greater Edmonton area. Some of the issues we explore include homelessness, poverty, food insecurity, Indigenous-Canada relations, climate justice, and more.


Service-learning is an approach to learning that emerges from active engagement with the community, ultimately working towards positive social change. Although volunteering and service-learning both involve community service, service-learning has a stronger focus on the intentional learning outcomes associated with that service. A key aspect of service-learning is reciprocity, which emphasizes that service placements should be mutually beneficial for students and community partners.

In pre-COVID times, examples of service-learning activities included sorting clothing donations, serving a meal, or packing food hampers at various local non-profit organizations. Some virtual service-learning activities included hosting an afterschool program for youth living in poverty and creating holiday cards for homeless seniors.

Social activism

Engage Edmonton’s social activism programming is for those passionate about creating social change on local and global issues through awareness, engagement, and education.

Social activism events might involve documentary screenings, panel discussions, attending protests, or letter writing campaigns for various social justice causes.

Engage Edmonton program

What makes Engage Edmonton unique is that we are a low-commitment program that offers a high diversity of service-learning opportunities. Students do not have to sign up for the whole year. Instead, they sign up for as many (or as few) events as they are interested in. We offer service opportunities at various times, and on various days of the week to accommodate different class schedules. Engage Edmonton works with dozens of local nonprofits to provide a great variety of service opportunities throughout the year.

Alternative Reading Week

Alternative Reading Weeks are weeklong, immersive service-learning programs that take place each semester during Reading Week. Throughout the program, students will participate in service opportunities, classroom lessons, and reflection activities around the theme of Poverty in Edmonton.

By participating in the Poverty in Edmonton Alternative Reading Week program, students will:

  • Evaluate their identity, values, and roles in relation to social issues and social justice in the Edmonton community
  • Analyze stereotypes and stigma individually, and societally, in relation to the cycle of poverty
  • Apply leadership skills such as teamwork and values-based action to connect with peers and others in the community
  • Develop a sense of citizenship and recognize the role that individuals have in creating positive change in the community

This is a competitive program, and only ten students are accepted each term. Applications open in October for Fall semester and January for Winter semester.

Getting involved

Facebook icon

To get involved, students can join the Engage Edmonton Facebook group. This group contains the most up to date information, as well as sign up sheets for upcoming Engage Edmonton events.

By participating in Engage Edmonton programs, students will:

  • Identify social issues in the Edmonton community and how various organizations are working to address these issues
  • Reflect on and discuss their personal values in relation to social issues and identify actionable opportunities to make positive social change
  • Develop a sense of social responsibility and become active citizens within their residences and the greater Edmonton community through the application of leadership skills such as values-based action, teamwork, and intercultural and generational communication
  • Become better connected to peers and the greater Edmonton community
  • Recognize how the values of service-learning, such as reciprocity, differ from those of volunteering

Interested in learning more?

The Engage Edmonton program is facilitated with the support of Residence Life’s Diversity and Inclusion Intern. The Diversity and Includion Intern coordinates and leads the Engage Edmonton events and also serves as a great resource for students looking to organize volunteer opportunities or social activism events for their communities.

If you have any questions about Engage Edmonton or about organizing a service-learning opportunity, please contact the Diversity and Inclusion Intern at servicelearning.intern@ualberta.ca.