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Experiential Education

Experiential Education Means Hands-on Opportunities

Experiential Education, or EE, is a hands-on approach to learning in which you participate in practical activities and then reflect on those experiences using the concepts and theories learned from your program. Whether it’s inside the classroom, out in the community or at work, EE helps you deepen your learning and develop important professional and life skills, such as communication, problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration and civic engagement.

Check out York’s interactive EE Guide to learn about experiential education and the great tools that can help you be successful in all your EE activities.

EE Focuses | Where Does EE Take Me?

In the Classroom

Revive your typical classroom learning experience by integrating a variety of unique hands-on learning methods, like interacting with guest speakers, participating in workshops or interviewing environmental field experts.

In the Community

Take your classroom out into the community and empower yourself as a changemaker with enriching experiential learning opportunities to work directly with high-impact organizations through a wide range of activities, including volunteering, mentoring, advocacy, outreach and awareness.

In the Workplace

Connect your classroom learning to professional development skills within the workplace, through placements and volunteer initiatives.

In the Classroom

Instructors bring course theories to life through a variety of concrete learning activities, such as inviting guest speakers to provide unique perspectives on course content, hosting workshops to build essential skills relevant to course material, introducing case studies and interactive class discussions or conducting lab work. Through these experiences, structured reflection is used to encourage students to reflect on the class activity they experienced in an effort to conceptualize it and return it to the relevant course material.

In the Community

Go beyond the four walls of your classroom and take your learning out into the community!

Learning doesn’t just stop in the classroom: We provide you with the opportunity to take your learning experience into the real world to connect with a wide range of professional community organizations. This integration of course material with experiences occurs through collaborative interactions and projects with community partners. There are three areas of community-focused EE:

Community-Based Learning (CBL)

  • CBL is a form of experiential education that takes place in the classroom, inviting community partners to present predefined problems, questions or issues to be explored and analyzed.
  • Students apply their developing knowledge to the problems and issues in consultation with their course director to develop solutions and provide recommendations for the organization’s challenges.

Community-Based Research (CBR)

  • In CBR, students are given the opportunity to work on a research project that is part of a course and has been co-created through a collaboration between a community partner and a course director. These types of projects are relevant to the community, collaborative and action-oriented.
  • The CBR project can also take the form of an applied independent research study or thesis.
  • CBR activities are typically completed within the duration of a full-year 6.0 credit course, though in some cases, these activities are completed in a 3.0 credit course.

Community Service Learning (CSL)

  • CSL takes students into the community as part of the learning experience to engage directly with a community partner. They collaborate on a variety of activities, including mentoring, research, presentation, outreach, awareness, advocacy and policy development.
  • CSL is often used as a strategy to not only address course-based material but also help students develop an awareness of the value of civic engagement.

In the Workplace

Be Career Ready! | Earn credits while working for one of our amazing community partners.

At the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, we want to ensure our students are career ready. In preparation for graduation, we provide the opportunity for students to develop in-demand professional working skills and competencies with partner organizations through work placements. Students earn credit by working with community organizations and demonstrating autonomy and professional capacity, while learning to link their concrete experience with course theory.Learn more about placements and internships here

Benefits of EE

Experiential education takes a diverse path to develop and strengthen essential skills and qualities related to students’ academic performance, civic engagement and employability. What will you get out of it?

Positive Academic Performance

  • Enhanced knowledge acquisition that will improve your academic performance
  • Applying course concepts and theories to practical, real-world scenarios
  • Stronger oral and written communication, team collaboration, leadership and critical thinking skills

Civic engagement

  • Improved attitudes toward social responsibility, respect and tolerance for diversity
  • The opportunity to be involved in community projects while putting course theory into practice


  • Defining possible career interests and career plans
  • Increased personal marketability when beginning your career search after graduation, with improved job search strategies, interviewing experience, and resumé and cover letter writing
  • Professional networking opportunities within your field of study

Helpful Resources

  • Career Centre: Resources and support around resumés and cover letters, job searching and more.
  • Learning Skills Services: Improve your effectiveness and efficiency at studying and completing assignments.
  • Experiential Education Guide: Information about EE, what to expect in your EE courses and resources to help you progress as a learner.
  • YU Experience Hub: Learn more about EE across the University and hear about students' experiences with EE.
  • Student Guide to eLearning: Resources on blended learning, web-enhanced learning and other ways eLearning is incorporated in your courses.
  • Structured Reflection: Resources related to the Experiential Education Guide.