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Community-Engaged Scholarship

This webpage provides an overview of the field of community-engaged scholarship (CES) including defining key terms, outlining assessment standards, reviewing the support for and barriers to promoting CES and discussing current efforts underway in promoting CES in academic institutions and other organizations. Click here for a flyer on CES resources available through CCPH.


Introduction

"Scholarship is teaching, discovery, integration, application and engagement; clear goals, adequate preparation, appropriate methods, significant results, effective presentation, and reflective critique that is rigorous and peer-reviewed."

"Community-engaged scholarship is scholarship that involves the faculty member in a mutually beneficial partnership with the community."

- Linking Scholarship and Communities: The Report of the Commission on Community-Engaged Scholarship in the Health Professions

Community-based teaching, research, and service are central to goals such as eliminating health disparities and improving the health and economic vitality of communities and are increasingly being embraced as central to the academic mission of health professional schools. Thanks to the recommendations of national organizations, the requirements of accrediting bodies, the investments of funding agencies, and the favorable results of community-based education and research, the future is bright for community-engaged scholars in the academy.

Community-engaged scholarship overlaps with the traditional domains of research, teaching, and service and an approach to these three domains which is often integrative. As illustrated in Figure 1, approaches such as community-based participatory research (CBPR) and service-learning (SL) represent types of community-engaged scholarship that are consistent with the missions of research, teaching and service.



Making the Case for Community-Engaged Scholarship

"Universities can, and must, play a role in combating the problems that plague our communities, from poverty to crime to racism and more."

William Richardson, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

A number of reports have made the case for supporting community-engaged scholarship (CES) across academic disciplines and in the health professions.

In October 2003 CCPH convened the Commission on Community Engaged Scholarship in the Health Professions, with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, to discuss the nature of CES and what can be done to support and reward CES. Many of the definitions and recommendations described on this page are developed out of the work of this Commission. The report of the Commission and other key reports that help make the case for increasing community engagement in the health professions and in health professional education are listed below.

Contemporary Views of Scholarship

"The scholarship of engagement means connecting the rich resources of the university to our most pressing social, civic and ethical problems, to our children, to our schools, to our teachers and to our cities..."

Ernest Boyer in The Scholarship of Engagement

In 1987, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching commissioned a report to examine the meaning of scholarship. Scholarship Reconsidered, authored by the late Ernest Boyer, challenged higher education to embrace the full scope of academic work, moving beyond an exclusive focus on traditional and narrowly defined research as the only legitimate avenue to further knowledge. He proposed four interrelated dimensions of scholarship; discovery, integration, application and teaching. Subsequently, Boyer expanded his definition to include the scholarship of engagement which regards service as scholarship when it requires the use of knowledge that results from one's role as a faculty member.

  • The scholarship of discovery refers to the pursuit of inquiry and investigation in search of new knowledge.
  • The scholarship of integration consists of making connections across disciplines and advancing knowledge through synthesis.
  • The scholarship of application asks how knowledge can be applied to the social issues of the times in a dynamic process that generates and tests new theory and knowledge.
  • The scholarship of teaching includes not only transmitting knowledge, but also transforming and extending it.
  • The scholarship of engagement connects any of the above dimensions of scholarship to the understanding and solving of pressing social, civic, and ethical problem

For more detail on Boyer's definition of scholarship and it's applications see:

Boyer, Ernest. (1990). Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. Menlo Park, CA, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching: 147.

Boyer, Ernest. (1996). The Scholarship of Engagement. Journal of Public Outreach. 1(1): 11-20.

Definitions

The report of the Commission on Community Engaged Scholarship in the Health Professions, with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, defines community engagement, scholarship and community-engaged scholarship as follows:

Community engagement: "The application of institutional resources to address and solve challenges facing communities through collaboration with these communities."

Scholarship: "Teaching, discovery, integration, application and engagement; clear goals, adequate preparation, appropriate methods, significant results, effective presentation, and reflective critique that is rigorous and peer-reviewed."

Community-engaged scholarship: "Scholarship that involves the faculty member in a mutually beneficial partnership with the community. Community-engaged scholarship can be transdisciplinary and often integrates some combination of multiple forms of scholarship. For example, service-learning can integrate the scholarship of teaching, application, and engagement, and community-based participatory research can integrate the scholarship of discovery, integration, application and engagement."

The report further states:

"It is important to point out that not all community-engaged activities undertaken by faculty are scholarship. For example, if a faculty member devotes time to developing a community-based health program, it may be important work and it may advance the service mission of the institution, but unless it includes the other components that define scholarship (e.g., clear goals, adequate preparation, appropriate methods, significant results, effective presentation, reflective critique, rigor, and peer review) it would not be considered scholarship."

For additional discussion of these terms, click here to access the audiofile and presenter PowerPoint slides from the teleconference "Community Engagement and Community-Engaged Scholarship: Clarifying Our Meanings When Using These Terms," held on May 18, 2005.

For additional definitions, visit the Glossary of Terms included in the Community-Engaged Scholarship Toolkit.

A number of higher education scholars and national organizations have developed "benchmarks and indicators" of engaged institutions and community-university partnerships. Click here for tables that summarize this information.

Key Issues and Challenges

"A university's values are most clearly described by its promotion and tenure policy and by the criteria used to evaluate faculty members."

Conrad Weiser Et al, Oregon State University
Scholarship Unbound for the 21st Century

A frequently cited barrier to faculty conducting service-learning (SL), community-based-participatory research (CBPR) and other forms of community-engaged scholarship (CES), is the risk associated with trying to achieve promotion and tenure.

Linking Scholarship and Communities, the report of the Commission on Community-Engaged Scholarship in the Health Professions identified the following challenges in valuing CES:

  • The scholarship hierarchy: discovery is valued over other forms of scholarship
  • Time involved in developing community-academic partnerships
  • The funding hierarchy: NIH funding is valued over private foundations or community agencies
  • Funding agency priorities and expectations: accepted research designs, timelines and focus on specific health issues may be incompatible with a community partnership approach
  • The journal hierarchy: "top tier" journals often do not publish works of community-engaged scholarship
  • The collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of the work
  • Diverse dissemination pathways and products: some scholarly products of CES are not journal articles
  • Diverse measures of quality, productivity, and impact
  • The central role of peer review
  • The limited involvement of community partners in the RPT process

The literature on community-engaged scholarship also discusses a number of barriers to CES. To review some of this literature, check out the "Facilitators and Barriers" section of the Annotated Bibliography developed for the Collaborative on Community-Engaged Scholarship in the Health Professions.

Recommendations

Linking Scholarship and Communities the report of the Commission on Community-Engaged Scholarship in the Health Professions makes recommendations for how professional associations, funding agencies and academic institutions can support community-engaged scholarship (CES). Recommendations relating to the institutionalization of CES include:

  • Health professional schools should adopt and promote a definition of scholarship that includes and values community-engaged scholarship.
  • Health professional schools should adopt review, promotion, and tenure policies and procedures that value community-engaged scholarship.
  • Health professional schools should ensure that community partners are meaningfully involved in review, promotion, and tenure processes for community-engaged faculty members.
  • Health professional schools should educate the members of review, promotion, and tenure committees about community-engaged scholarship and prepare them to understand and apply the review, promotion, and tenure guidelines in the review of community-engaged faculty.
  • Health professional schools should invest in the recruitment and retention of community-engaged faculty.
  • Health professional schools should advocate for increased extramural support for community-engaged scholarship.
  • Health professional schools should take a leadership role on their campuses to initiate further campus-wide support for community-engaged scholarship.

In the report, these recommendations are discussed in depth with examples of promising practices in implementing these steps at health professional schools and associations.

Models & Initiatives

Efforts in Academic Institutions

An increasing number of higher educational institutions are rewriting their review, promotion and tenure policies to better recognize and reward community-engaged scholarship (CES). The Community-Engaged Scholarship for Health Collaborative's Peer Review Workgroup has prepared a background document, "Developing Criteria for Review of Community-Engaged Scholars for Promotion or Tenure" that provides edited or distilled information from the websites of several institutions and entities that have recognized and seek to reward community-engaged scholarship.

The universities below have adopted policies that recognize and reward CES:

University of Guelph College of Social and Applied Human Sciences
California State University Fresno

Community Service Learning Center, California State University Long Beach
Portland State University
University of Wisconsin
Western Washington University, Center for Service Learning

Indiana University School of Nursing, Standards & Criteria for Excellent Performance in Service
University of Arkansas Medical School, College of Public Health
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, School of Public Health
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Department of Family Medicine
For more information contact Department Chair Warren Newton
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, School of Dentistry
University of Ottawa, Faculty of Medicine
University of Washington, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
See p. 27 for guidelines on academic public health practice

The Association of Schools of Public Health has compiled information from 17 schools of public health that recognize and reward academic public health practice. Click here to view the report.

For additional "promising practices," visit Linking Scholarship and Communities, the report of the Commission on Community-Engaged Scholarship in the Health Professions

Efforts in National Associations of Health Professional Schools

Health professional associations have also taken steps in recent years to promote community-engaged scholarship (CES) in their disciplines and professions. These steps have included commissioning reports defining scholarship, compiling policies of member schools that support CES, encouraging publication on CES through journal theme issues, and presenting awards for exemplary community-engaged work.

Examples of the work of national associations of health professional schools include:

Reports on Scholarship in the Health Professions:

Recent Journal Theme Issues Supporting CES:

CCPH Efforts to Promote Community-Engaged Scholarship

The Commission on Community-Engaged Scholarship in the Health Professions

The Commission on Community-Engaged Scholarship in the Health Professions was convened by CCPH in October 2003, with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to provide national leadership for creating a more supportive culture and reward system for health professional faculty involved in service-learning, community-based participatory research, academic public health practice and other forms of community- engaged scholarship. The Commission's report, Linking Scholarship and Communities, contains detailed recommendations for action by health professional schools and their national associations that can support community-engaged scholarship and cites promising practices that illustrate their implementation. Click here to order a hard copy of the report.

The Collaborative on Community-Engaged Scholarship in the Health Professions

In October 2004, the US Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) awarded CCPH a 3-year grant for the Community-Engaged Scholarship for Health Collaborative. The Collaborative is a group of 10 health professional schools that aims to significantly change faculty review, promotion and tenure policies and practices to recognize and reward community-engaged scholarship in the participating schools and their peers across the country. The Collaborative also provides the opportunity to implement the Commission's recommendations and tools.

Community-Engaged Scholarship Toolkit

The goal of this on-line toolkit is to provide health professional faculty with a set of tools to carefully plan and document their community-engaged scholarship and produce strong portfolios for promotion and tenure. The toolkit includes sections advising faculty in preparing for promotion and/or tenure review, specific details for creating a strong portfolio, examples of successful portfolio components from community-engaged faculty and a set of references and resources.

Other Efforts to Support Community-Engaged Scholarship

The National Review Board for the Scholarship of Engagement

The National Review Board for the Scholarship of Engagement serves as a review mechanism for portfolios for faculty seeking promotion based on community-engaged scholarship. Full portfolios are reviewed by experts in community-engaged work and recommendations and feedback are returned to the faculty member and the faculty member's institution. The board's evaluation criteria webpage outlines the questions considered by their reviewers in assessing scholarly work.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching announced in early 2005 that it has selected several colleges and universities to be involved in a pilot program to develop a new means of classification regarding community engagement. Click here to see the full news release.

Committee on Institutional Cooperation's Committee on Engagement

The Committee on Institutional Cooperation is an academic consortium of twelve large universities in the Midwest. The CIC Committee on Engagement has developed a Draft Resource Guide and Recommendations for Defining and Benchmarking Engagement.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Detailed answers to frequently asked questions about defining, assessing and supporting CES and developing policies to support CES at academic institutions have been written to support the Community Engaged Scholarship in the Health Professions Collaborative. To link to a pdf document reviewing the questions and answers, click here. For an html version of the answers click here.

On-line Toolkit

The goal of the on-line Community Engaged Scholarship Toolkit is to provide health professional faculty with a set of tools to carefully plan and document their community-engaged scholarship and produce strong portfolios for promotion and tenure. The toolkit includes sections advising faculty in preparing for promotion and/or tenure review, specific details for creating a strong portfolio, examples of successful portfolio components from community-engaged faculty and a set of references and resources.

An introductory webconference on the toolkit was held on October 13, 2005. To access, the powerpoint slides and audiorecording from the event, click here.

The Community-Engaged Scholarship Review, Promotion & Tenure (RPT) Package was added to the toolkit in May 2008. This resource and guide describes 8 characteristics of quality community-engaged scholarship, and includes a sample dossier that shows how a community-engaged scholar may present his or her work to RPT committees. A group exercise simulating an RPT committee process can be used as an educational tool with RPT committees.

Promotion & Tenure Committee Discussion Questions were developed to assess P&T committee knowledge of and support for CES, and explore opportunities for better aligning P&T policies and processes with CES.

Electronic Discussion Group

The Community-Engaged Scholarship listserv provides a venue for sharing information and resources concerning the academic review and reward system for health professional faculty involved in community-engaged scholarship." To sign up, click here.

Training & Technical Assistance

The CCPH Consultancy Network is available to provide customized training & technical assistance to individual campuses and campus consortia that are interested in strengthening their support for community-engaged scholarship (CES). This can include, for example: faculty development workshops, strategic planning sessions, and mentoring of junior faculty. Consultants include members of the Commission on Community-Engaged Scholarship in the Health Professions, the CCPH board, CCPH senior consultants and other experts in the field.

References

Annotated Bibliography

Click here for an annotated bibliography of resources related to promoting community engagement and community-engaged scholarship at health professional schools compiled to support the work of the Community-Engaged Scholarship for Health Collaborative.

Click here for an article by two tenured community-engaged faculty members who offer 20 practical suggestions for successfully navigating the promotion and tenure process (Citation: Gelmon, S. Agre Kippenhan, S. January 2002. Promotion, tenure, and the engaged scholar: Keeping the scholarship of engagement in the review process. AAHE Bulletin, p. 7-11).




 

 
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