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 Office of Civic Engagement

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Civic Engagement and Risk Management

For a pdf version of the content below, please click here.


Community-based learning typically involves students working/serving in an off-campus experience with a community organization as part of their university course work.  These community-based learning experiences may present risks that are not part of traditional classroom learning.   UMD is responsible for administering their risk management program in a manner that will attempt to minimize risk to students, employees, and visitors and protect the property of the campus.   Please adhere to the below practices and procedures to manage risks associated with community-based learning experiences. Credit bearing community-based learning experiences differ from co-curricular community service/volunteerism placements because of the academic requirement associated with them.  All types of experiential education need to examine risk management issues as they pertain to their programs.  While this resource document is not intended to be all inclusive, it may serve as a valuable resource for other experiential education experiences, such as internships.

Community Organizational Agreement:

U of M Risk Management and General Council requires that UMD obtains community organizational agreements with all community organizations in which students are involved in for credit-bearing community-based learning experiences.  The Office of Civic Engagement manages this process for the University and utilizes a standardized agreement that has been approved and endorsed by General Council. It is important for each faculty, instructor or staff member to consult the OCE to ensure an agreement is in place BEFORE they send their students to serve in the community at these locations.  The agreement addresses liability and expectations that each party (University and Community Organization) is expected to adhere to when conducting community-based experiences.   The OCE recommends that each faculty, instructor or staff member review this document in advance to be aware of the University’s obligations when working with the community. A sample copy can be found on the OCE’s website at   Please also see our website to review a list of community organizations in which the university has current, up to date agreements. If you do not see an organization listed that you would like to establish a relationship with please contact the OCE to work with you on establishing this relationship.


This section includes information on the preferred hierarchy of transportation options for students traveling to community organizations for credit-bearing community-based learning experience.  Please note that this is for credit bearing experiences only and it does not address co-curricular or extra-curricular experiences.  The following transportation hierarchy is intended to allow users to evaluate various options in the context of budget, location, public safety and other applicable factors.  The preferred result is to use the highest option practicable considering the various factors and constraints. 

  1. DTA Bus
  2. Rental vehicle with a student driver (students at least 19 years old and valid US driver’s license)
  3. Student driving personal vehicle and ONLY transporting self
  4. Student driving personal vehicle with other students in car
  5. Rental vehicle with a faculty/staff driver
  6. Faculty/staff driving personal vehicle with other students in car


When students or faculty use a personal vehicle, the owner’s personal auto insurance policy will be primary.  The University’s auto insurance policy will be excess only for claims arising out of the use of a faculty/staff member’s auto.  The University is not responsible for insurance deductibles on student or faculty/staff member’s personal auto policy.

Background Checks:

Background checks may be required for community-based learning students who come into contact with protected classes of people, such as children, persons with disabilities and persons living in assisted-living facilities.  If students are working with protected classes of people in an unsupervised setting it is expected that they have a background check. Please note that most community-based learning experiences are conducted in supervised settings and do not require background checks unless the community organization deems otherwise.  The decision of a community organization to require a background check is solely up to the community organization’s interpretation of the laws or regulations that govern it.  Community organizations are solely responsible for requesting background checks for community-based learning students placed at their sites.  The university typically does not play a role in this decision and only needs to know which organizations require background checks.  However, please consult your department regarding your program’s policies because some departments such as Education and Social Work require background checks for student teaching and practicum experiences that are handled through the department.  

Please note that UMD has a background check policy for Student Field Placements.  Students who are required through a class(es) to be assigned to a field placement where they are responsible for other people must have a background check completed and on file with the UMD Department of Human Resources and Equal Opportunity. The University uses a system of background verifications to reduce the risk of making an inappropriate student placement or being unaware of important placement-relevant information.  For more information on field placements background checks please go to . Also please note that some background checks take longer than others and faculty members should be prepared well in advance if a background check is needed and takes more than a few days. 

Since the university is not typically the requesting agency, no faculty or staff member will ever receive the results of a student’s background check unless the department conducts the background checks for their specific program requirements. Community organizations are under strict guidelines to keep all background check information private, and can have their licenses revoked if they violate this right of privacy.

Student Consent Agreement and Orientation:

According to the community organizational agreement, each student participating in a community-based learning experience should sign the online student agreement form and participate in a community-based learning orientation, addressing appropriate behavior, dress, etc to ensure students are adequately prepared to serve in the community.  It is highly recommended that each faculty member or instructor ensures students are prepared for these experiences in the community. The Office of Civic Engagement has created resources to support this process including an online student agreement form, a short orientation video, and they will also conduct classroom orientation sessions per the request of a faculty or instructor.  In addition, many community organizations may also conduct on site orientations for students to address emergency procedures, operating policies and rules, etc.   It is important to address these areas with the community organization that you are partnering with to ensure the safety and security of UMD students and to serve the needs of the organization. 










UMD Policies:

Listed below are links to the University of Minnesota’s policies and procedures regarding possible issues students may face.


Student Code of Conduct



Code of Conduct



Sexual Harassment



Sexual Assault



Nepotism and Personal Relationship




Incident and Injury Procedures:

If an incident or injury should occur to a student while performing community-based learning work or service, students should do the following:

  1. If immediate assistance for injury or incident is needed, call 911
  2. Report the incident to the community organization that you are serving at immediately
  3. Inform the Office of Civic Engagement as soon as possible ( or 218.726.7125) and complete a formal OCE Incident report form and submit to the OCE via email or campus mail 209 BOHH
  4. Inform faculty or instructor as soon as possible



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Last modified on 08/29/13 12:09 PM
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