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Community Engagement

Community Engaged Scholarship

Dossier evaluators at every level need to understand how Community-Engaged Scholarship (CES) shares the rigor of traditional scholarship and adds complexity.

In 2015, nationally distinguished community-engaged scholars concluded that many community-engaged institutions had not advanced beyond the first step of adding language to their Promotion and Tenure documents. They advocated a “roadmap . . . for reform,” and identified five “needs.”[1]

  1. The need to value, define, describe, and differentiate community-engaged scholarship.
  2. The need to identify criteria for evaluating community-engaged scholarship.
  3. The need to consider what constitutes documentation and evidence.
  4. The need to make peer review more inclusive.
  5. The need to value local impact.
  • Relevance of Community-Engaged Scholarship

    Community-Engaged Scholarship (CES) is a product of the faculty member's collaboration in a mutually beneficial relationship with community partner(s). It can be the scholarship of teaching and learning, discovery, integration, or application.

    UNF faculty reported feeling compelled to place their CES under the category of Service, instead of Scholarship, when they created Promotion and Tenure dossiers. It is important to distinguish CES from Service, where Service is a faculty member applying their expertise to the institution, discipline, or community that does not result in scholarship (i.e. serving as a non-profit board member). 

    It is also important that the collaborative nature of CES means the order of authors is irrelevant: it is not an indication of the amount of work completed by any of the contributors.

    Scholars and institutions committed to engagement have agreed upon the following traits to distinguish the quality and significance of CES[2].

    The scholarly work:

    1. Articulates clear academic and community change goals.
    2. Demonstrates preparation in the disciplinary content area and community issues.
    3. Demonstrates appropriate methodology: rigor and community engagement.
    4. Reveals significant results: impact on the field and/or in the community.
    5. Results in effective dissemination to academic and community audiences.
    6. Articulates lessons learned using reflective critique.
    7. Demonstrates leadership and personal contribution.
    8. Consistent ethical behavior: socially responsible conduct of research and teaching
  • Evidence of Quality Community-Engaged Scholarship

    Given the previously provided qualities of Community-Engaged Scholarship (CES), what should evaluators expect to see and community-engaged scholars demonstrate in dossiers?

    Evidence includes:

    1. Goals
      • Clearly stating the purpose and its value for the public good.
      • Identifying significant intellectual questions important for the discipline as well as the community.
    2. Preparation
      • Demonstrating the investment of time in developing community partnerships
      • Participating in professional development that builds competencies in CES.
    3. Methodology
      • As with all scholarship, rigor should be evaluated in research design, data collection, and interpretation of results.
    4. Results could include any of the following:
      • Securing funds to continue, expand, or replicate the study
      • Producing results with the potential for change in policy
      • The community contributes to as well as benefits from the research.
    5. Dissemination
      • Publishing in peer-reviewed journals
      • Disseminating results in other media used by the community, service providers, and policy-makers: periodicals, newspapers, newsletters, governmental reports, as well as utilizing podcasts and videos or presenting at community events.
    6. Reflection
      • Conducting debriefing sessions with or seeking evaluation from the community and/or agencies and NGOs.
      • Engaging in reflection concerning relevant social and ethical issues.
    7. Leadership
      • Receiving invitations to present to international or national conferences, to present to the community, the media, or policymakers.
      • Receiving awards from community-based organizations or partners.
    8. Ethics
      • Utilizing sound research techniques and appropriate community-engaged pedagogies that result in meaningful and beneficial contributions to communities.
      • Following the human subject review process and subjecting work to IRB committee focused on community-based research, if these exist.
  • Citations

    1. O'Meara, K., Eatman, T. K., & Peterson, S. (2015). Advancing engaged scholarship in promotion and tenure: A roadmap and call for reform. Liberal Education, 101(3). Retrieved from

    2. Jordan, C. (Editor). Community-Engaged Scholarship Review, Promotion & Tenure Package. Peer Review Workgroup, Community-Engaged Scholarship for Health Collaborative, Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, 2007.

    Institutions using this latter resource include Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of South Florida. UNF, at this point, has taken a ‘middle road’ in assessing the current campus culture, but it does not go as far as other institutions (some R1 institutions) that tend to pay attention to how the digital culture is changing scholarship and provide far more options for cutting edge ways to share faculty knowledge. (The USF website lists dozens of kinds of evidence.

For additional information and resources on Community-Engaged Scholarship, please visit the Office of Faculty Excellence webpage or contact the Center for Community-Based Learning.