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, Jessica Woods.

Experiential Learning


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. 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 the CELL Program Specialist and Internship Coordinator, Jessica Woods.

Service Learning

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, Jessica Woods or complete this form.

Professional Development


Executive Research & Professional Development Training Program
Welcome to the Civic Engagement Learning Lab(CELL) at the Department of Public Administration, University of North Texas. We are excited that you are considering CELL to enhance your executive professional development.

The objective of the Executive Research & Professional Development Training Program is to encourage dialogue and the exchange of ideas between faculty at UNT and international scholars including leaders in the public and nonprofit sectors.

The faculty and staff at CELL serve as your key resources to support your professional development. Through workshops, research colloquia, and discussions, you can develop profound relationships with fellow scholars, professors, researchers, and alumni.
CELL assists you with logistic support by working closely with UNT International Affairs on DS-2019.

CELL hosts international and professional visiting scholars up to 2 years and accepts a limited number of applications per year. Prospective visiting scholars must be sponsored by a faculty member at the Department of Public Administration. They should first contact a faculty to confirm research interests before submitting the application package including (1) Cover Letter, (2) Anticipated arrival and departure dates (months/year), (3) Description of research objectives including a research plan, and (4) Curriculum Vita.


TRACK 1: Professional Visiting Scholars - CELL offers professional development and research program for public and nonprofit agency executives. Your professional development includes a collaborative research environment with a host faculty. As a Visiting Scholar, you will have a research space and access to research resources at UNT.  

CELL provides research-based workshops that are designed by faculty and academic staff with strong applied research background. Training workshops are interdisciplinary and designed to expose professionals to new areas of expertise in the field of public sector management and nonprofit leadership. The workshops are offered during a summer month. Participants can also audit graduate courses with the permission of the instructor.

CELL arranges government facility tours, meetings with municipality leaders and local community visits to enhance learning and research experiences. 


“The executive training program at CELL helped me refresh my leadership skills and learn new approaches in social services and operations of innovative programs. The program experience is absolutely worth it.” 

- Ms. Ok Hyun Kang, Director, Urban Regeneration Office at Seoul Metropolitan Government

“The program at CELL is an important catalyst of my career in local government. The program has offered me essential administration insights and skills. The training experience at CELL has been a premium and meaningful experience in my career development endeavors.” 

- Ms. Kyung Ok Byun, Director, City Asset Management Division at Seoul Metropolitan Government 

Past Professional Visiting Scholars 

  • Re-Ryong Jung, Director of Disaster Safety R&D Division, Ministry of Interior and Safety, 2019-2020.
  • Jun-Sik Lee, Director of Big-data Analysis Division, National Computing and Information Service, Ministry of the Interior, 2017-18.
  • Hyung-Suk Lee, Director of Safety Services Coordination Division, Ministry of Public Safety and Security, 2016-17.
  • Gwang Yong Kim, Director of Safety Policy Division, Ministry of Security and Public Administration, 2015-16. 

TRACK 2: International Visiting Scholar - CELL provides research opportunities and collaboration to International Visiting Scholars on a range of topics. International Visiting Scholars are typically faculty and researchers at universities or research institutions. International Visiting Scholars are provided with a space to conduct collaborative research and access to UNT library resources. They are expected to interact with faculty and researchers, attend workshops, present work at the Chester A. Newland’s PhD Colloquium Series, and conduct research in public sector management.

Potential research topics include:

  • Citizen Participation Mechanisms in Public Policy Processes; 
  • Citizen Engagement in Disaster Preparation and Emergency Administration;
  • Public Program Innovation and Finance; 
  • Public-Nonprofit Collaboration and Collaborative Governance; 
  • Local Government Leadership and Management; 
  • Research design including survey development and data analysis.

Professional Visiting Scholars Experience

Department of Public Administration (PADM) - Deepen your Knowledge to Enhance Management Practice

CELL is housed at the Department of Public Administration (PADM), College of Health and Public Service. 

The Master in Public Administration (MPA) program at the Department of Public Administration is nationally ranked by the US News and World Report (2022). The program was established in 1961 and now has more than 1,400 alumni working in all forms of public service as well as the private sector.

#11th in the nation on Local Government Management Specialty

#9th in the nation on Homeland Security and Emergency Management Specialty   

The mission of the MPA program is to prepare leaders dedicated to the advancement of ethical, accountable and inclusive governance. Program graduates serve diverse local and global communities through competent, professional public service that values critical analytic skills and an ability to communicate with and to solve problems in partnership with a diverse and changing workforce and public.

Visiting Scholars have opportunities to meet, discuss, and develop connections with leading researchers and top-notch faculty at PADM. Through workshops, research colloquia, and discussions, visiting scholars can develop profound relationships with fellow scholars and professors, researchers, and alumni. Scholars also gain inspiring partnership and develop connections with a network of scholars that can equip them with skills and experience to be successful at their workplace.

The University of North Texas is ranked among the nation's 86 top-tier research universities, according to the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education™ (March 2022).

City of Denton – “a small-city feel pairs with big-city amenities” 

Denton is located on the northern tip of the “golden triangle” – Dallas-Denton-Fort Worth. Downtown Denton has a gorgeous courthouse square. The City is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.

Denton is close to major airports and airlines Hubs, i.e., 25 miles from DFW International Airport, 35 miles from Dallas Love Field, and 20 miles north of Alliance Airport. The Denton County Transportation Authority has bus and rail services.

The City is internationally known for its Jazz annual festival in April and May. The Denton Arts and Jazz Festival provides world class entertainment and art in the North Texas Metroplex area. 

The Metroplex

Arts and Culture: There are plenty to do in the Metroplex, i.e., from walking tours to performing arts, art museums, and more. You can visit the Dallas Art Districts-- the largest urban cultural district in the country; the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth Cultural District---excellent art collection, and venues and from fine dining to Texas BBQ and art museums, games and live music and Cowboy Dance Halls and the iconic Stockyards—where you can experience distinctly cowboy feel--“Cowtown.” 

Recreation and Outdoor Adventures: The Metroplex has outdoor adventures for you and your family to enjoy nature. The Katy Trail provides a popular jogging, walking and cycling hotspot; the Cedar Ridge Preserve has 600 acres of preserved wilderness, and you can also explore a 5.2-acre, Klyde Warren Park with its food trucks and fitness classes, and a dog park.

Nightlife: The Metroplex also has a great night life, cool bars, and excellent live music in Deep Ellum to the Bishop Art District for its boutiques, restaurants, bars, coffee shops and galleries.

Spectator Sports: The Metroplex has a team in the four major professional sports leagues: The Dallas Cowboys (American football), The Texas Rangers (baseball), The Dallas Mavericks (basketball), and The Dallas Stars (ice hockey). The Metroplex also has Major League Soccer team FC Dallas (Frisco) and the Dallas Wings (Arlington). Two NASCAR Cup Series races are hosted annually at Texas Motor Speedway, which is just a few miles from the City of Denton.



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.


  1. City of Allen - CELL worked with the City of Allen to study how the city can increase efficiency and utility for the residents of Allen through coordination and collaboration among social service nonprofit agencies working to serve the community. Through interviews and analysis of networks, community data and services, researchers were able to provide the City of Allen with recommendations for how coordination and collaboration with local nonprofits could be enhanced in the future.

This report will be very helpful as we continue discussing how the City can make a positive impact on improving the accessibility of social services in the community. We appreciate the professionalism and responsiveness of your team and enjoyed working with you on this project. - Lee Battle, Director of Community Enhancement, City of Allen

Public Administration

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.
 Chilton Hall 204

Physical/Shipping Address
UNT College of Health and Public Service
Chilton Hall, Suite 204
410 S. Avenue C
Denton, TX 76201

Mailing Address
UNT College of Health and Public Service
1155 Union Circle #310617
Denton, TX 76203