The Civic Engagement Learning Lab (CELL) is an initiative in the Department of Public Administration started in 2020 with a mission to help people learn how to engage in the public good through volunteering, nonprofit and local government leadership, and collaborative governance with an emphasis on experiential learning, professional development, and research.
Support and administer experiential learning programs through the development of service- learning opportunities and internships.
Collaborate with local nonprofits and local governments to assist with leadership development and capacity building
Provide applied and scholarly research that helps improve communities and the lives of citizens through partnerships with nonprofits and local government.
The CELL is always looking to engage with new and existing stakeholders in the public and nonprofit communities. For further information or to share ideas contact Program Specialist, Jodi Vicars-Nance.
Internships are a way for our students to gain hands-on learning in a practical environment to further enhance their knowledge and skills. These internships provide valuable experience for both our MPA and Nonprofit Leadership students and allows them the opportunity to become familiar with local organizations and build valuable relationships with the community and stakeholders. Students in the Nonprofit Leadership Studies program are required to obtain 120 hours in an internship. MPA students without significant career experience are required to obtain 440 hours in an internship, and they should be paid for their work. The department is always looking for internship hosts in the public and nonprofit sectors. If you have a potential opportunity that can be shared or you are a student with questions about the internship then contact CELL Program Specialist and Internship Coordinator, Jodi Vicars-Nance.
Graduate students without significant career experience are classified as pre-career and are required to complete a 440-hour internship. If a student has experience and wishes to be considered for an internship waiver then they should send their resume to firstname.lastname@example.org to have it reviewed by the Graduate Coordinator. Students are required to locate their own internship, but the internship coordinator is available to provide guidance and support through this process. Opportunities for internships and employment opportunities will be posted on the MPA LinkedIn page, and all MPA students should join this group.Prior to starting an internship, students must get approval from the internship coordinator. After approval, the required forms and evaluations will be provided to the student and supervisor. MPA students must complete activity logs and have an evaluation completed at 220 and 440 hours and return them to the internship coordinator. In the semester in which the internship will be completed, the student must enroll in 5800. Once a student returns all the required paperwork, takes 5800, and completes a presentation and paper then credit will be given for the internship.
Nonprofit Leadership students are required to complete a 120-hour internship if they do not have previous experience in the nonprofit sector. Waivers to the internship requirement can be requested from the undergraduate coordinator Laura.Keyes@unt.edu. Students are required to locate their own internship, but the internship coordinator is available to provide guidance and support through this process. Opportunities for internships will be posted on the NPLS Twitter page. Prior to starting an internship, a student should get approval from the internship coordinator. Student must enroll in PADM 4310 for the semester in which they will be doing an internship for credit.
Service learning is an opportunity for students to complete an experiential project for an organization under the supervision of a faculty member. Most projects are done over a semester by a group of students with input from the requesting organizations.
Past Organizations include CASA of Denton County, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Friends of the Family, Journey to Dream, and the City of Denison. Past projects include grant proposals, volunteer recruitment plans, asset mapping, and capacity building.
We are always looking to form new partnerships that will bring service-learning opportunities to our students. If your organization has a need or an idea that you would like to discuss then contact the CELL Program Specialist, Jodi Vicars-Nance or complete this form.
- Volunteer Now – CELL is partnering with Volunteer Now to bring the annual Texas Volunteer Management Conference to UNT in 2021. This conference brings volunteer management professionals from around the State of Texas to provide training and network opportunities. The department is also collaborating with the agency on a regional survey to collect data on volunteers in the community.
- Serve Denton – CELL and Serve Denton are collaborating on a project to bring board diversity and cultural competency to area nonprofits.
Capacity Building and Training
- International Management Exchange - CELL offers professional training for public agency professionals including two visiting executives from Seoul Metropolitan Government. The participants were provided opportunities to participate in research about the role of nonprofits in social services and volunteer development projects. Activities were focused upon professional training and scholarly research into applied civic engagement in a large, complex metropolitan area. Dr. Hee Soun Jang serves as a mentor in research and professional development. This opportunity for training is open to other professionals looking to expand their knowledge through research and experiential learning.
- Board Diversity and Cultural Competency – Nonprofit and local government boards should reflect the communities in which they serve, but agencies often struggle in their recruitment efforts or are unaware that such efforts are needed. CELL plans to collaborate with other agencies and stakeholders to provide training and facilitate efforts to promote diversity on local boards and promote a culturally competent environment for those who serve.
The Civic Engagement Learning Lab at UNT supports the research activities of our faculty, students, and the DFW community. Sponsored research enables us to work with nonprofits and local governments to improve communities in North Texas and globally. CELL also provides training and technical assistance to facilitate greater public engagement in policy and governance through professional nonprofits and local governments.
Founded in 1992, the Department of Public Administration is located in the College of Health and Public Service.
Today the department's ten faculty and five professional staff serve more than 350 majors in these three programs. Student-centered education is a hallmark of this dedicated faculty who take personal interest in every student's progress from the first day they enter and beyond graduation to their professional career.
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UNT College of Health and Public Service
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