By: Rebecca London (UC Santa Cruz)
Rebecca London writes on her experience and expertise with community-engaged research, arguing that rather than sequester community-engaged research to the sidelines of academia, sociology should elevate it as a rigorous, theoretically rich, and ethical way to conduct research and advance social justice.
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching defines community engagement as collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. The purpose of community engagement is the partnership of college and university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.
Campus + Community
London is launching a center at UC Santa Cruz called Campus + Community with funding from the William T. Grant Foundation, Spencer Foundation, and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the tremendous support of the Institute for Social Transformation in the Division of Social Sciences. The center’s aim is to infuse the lessons learned from the literature on community-engaged research to establish ethical approaches to community-engaged research that can be deployed in every discipline and division at the university. The center intends to:
- Provide a support infrastructure for engaging community organizations who already partner with UCSC and those looking to partner.
- Link the scholarship and centers on campus that engage with community partners to reduce duplication and increase synergy.
- Offer capacity-building for faculty, staff, students, and community partners to support strong partnerships that generate actionable results.
- Support the research process by offering graduate and undergraduate students opportunities to get involved.
- Support the research dissemination process by centralizing publication production, event planning, and press releases.
- Establish common metrics across units that can more fully assess the scale, scope, and impact of the university’s community-engaged scholarship.
London hopes that the center’s attention to the ethics of collaborating specifically for research, and their social justice mission, will create momentum across the community engagement centers in many college campuses to make real and lasting change in both campus and community.
London, Rebecca. “Research for, by, and about the People.” Footnotes, vol. 50, no. 1, Winter 2022. American Sociological Association. https://www.asanet.org/research-and-about-people