Date of Graduation

Summer 8-13-2021

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Nursing and Health Professions

First Advisor

Zahra Goliaei, MD MPH


During the COVID-19 pandemic, universities and colleges had to quickly transition their courses from in-person to online. This switch to online learning heavily impacted community-engaged learning (CEL) courses because it meant that internships with community partners had to become remote as well as the coursework. The University of San Francisco (USF) requires their undergraduate students to take at least one CEL course during their four years there as a way to connect them to the school’s Jesuit Catholic values, so pivoting these courses to a remote setting and keeping them available to students throughout the pandemic was imperative. This paper uses the Social-Ecological Model and thematic analysis of six interviews that were conducted by the Leo T. McCarthy Center at USF to evaluate how CEL at USF responded to the pandemic and the lessons that higher education faculty and administration can take into the future. The interview participants include course instructors, students, and community partners of both undergraduate and graduate-level CEL courses. The thematic analysis of these interviews resulted in five major themes: Openness to Learn, Adaptation and Flexibility, Guiding Values and Practices, Relationship Building, and Importance of Mental Health. Through evaluating these themes, this paper recommends that CEL instructors integrate mental health support into their courses, that universities expand CEL opportunities into online learning through eSL beyond the pandemic, and that universities and accrediting bodies reflect on how they can adjust their requirements to meet their students' needs in a post-pandemic world.