Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center

The Community-Engaged Scholarship Partnership

A joint program of the Service Learning Institute (SLI) and Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC) aims to help foster conversations about public scholarship across campus, provide resources and support for faculty and students engaged in public scholarship, and raise the profile of the exciting and diverse public scholarship projects carried out at CSU Monterey Bay.

One key element that differentiates community-engaged scholarship from more traditional outreach models is recognition that the community is much more than a laboratory for, or recipient of, university research and expertise. In this more collaborative academic activity, our partners are integrated into the project from the first steps, including conceptualizing the project, developing the research questions, participating in data collection and analysis, co-producing the results and deliverables, sharing resources, and getting credit, along with the university researcher, throughout the process. This is really about co-creation, with the community working as a partner in the knowledge-development process.

If you are a scholar who wants to engage the public, whether it is local, regional, or national, you must begin to ask questions such as:

  • Who decides what the relevant issues are?
  • Who designs the approach to address these issues?
  • Whom does the scholarship serve?
  • Who benefits from the research and how?

Setting equitable expectations and responsibilities prior to beginning a project is also critical. The National Institutes of Health Office of the Ombudsman Partnership Agreement Template is a good place to start. Another great resource is the Campus-Community Partnerships for Health, who have developed resources on the Ethical Issues on Engaged Scholarship. Another excellent resource that examines the complexity of engaged scholarship is Imagining America, a national association of engaged academics and community professionals, which sponsors the Full Participation project.

Among the questions that need to be asked in a community-engaged scholarship project are the following:

  • How do scholars and community members define and value each other’s knowledge and expertise?
  • How do scholars and community members define and value each other’s knowledge and expertise?
  • Are university human subjects protocols acceptable to the community participants and vice versa?
  • How does the project build community capacity, empowerment, and sustainability?

Community Engagement can be broadly defined as "the process of working collaboratively with groups of people who are affiliated by geographic proximity, special interests, or similar situations with respect to issues affecting their well-being" (CDC: Principles of Community Engagement, 1997).

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is a form of community engaged research , involving a collaborative approach for participation, shared decision-making, and mutual ownership in all aspects of the research process by communities affected by the issue being studied, researchers, and organizational representatives (developed from AHRQ Publication No. 04-E022-2: Community-Based Participatory Research: Assessing the Evidence, July 2004).

Public Scholarship is defined as scholarly or creative activity that joins serious intellectual endeavor with a commitment to public practice and public consequence. It often involves mutually-beneficial partnerships between higher education and organizations in the public and private sectors. Its goals include enriching research, creative activity, and public knowledge; enhancing curriculum, teaching and learning; preparing educated and engaged citizens; strengthening democratic values and civic responsibility; addressing and helping to solve critical social problems; and contributing to the public good.

Additional resources are available through the following:

Readings on ethics, origins, and principles of community-based research:

  • Strand, et al. (2003). Origins and principles of community-based research. In Community-based research in higher education (pp. 1-15). Josey-Bass.
  • Kravetz, K. (2004). Undergraduates and community-based research: Benefits, challenges and opportunities. COM-ORG Papers. http://comm-org.wisc.edu/papers2004/kravetz.htm.
  • Stoecker, R. (1999). Are academics irrelevant? Roles for scholars in participatory research. American Behavioral Scientist, 42(5), 840-854.

Additional readings recommended for those doing CBR or Participatory Research that involves transcribing interviews or focus groups:

  • Bucholtz, M. (2000). The politics of transcription. Journal of pragmatics, 32(10), 1439-1465.
  • LeCompte, M. and Schensul, J. (1999). Ethical treatment of research participants. In Designing Ethnographic Research (No. 1). Pp. 183-201.