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CAP Guidance: Community-Engaged Scholarship

Community-engaged scholarship includes research or scholarship conducted in partnership with non-academic organizations and community scholars and practitioners. Such partnerships create opportunities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources that make a positive contribution to both our university and to the public good and align well with our university’s mission. This type of research is sometimes conducted outside the standard framework of peer-reviewed scholarship and can involve components that may not produce conventional interim milestones or traditional final products. The Council on Academic Personnel recognizes that community-engaged scholarship involves collaborations with many different bodies, including non-profit organizations as well business and community partners, ones that may encompass translational research, commercialization activities, and patents. Such research may be funded by non-profit organizations, community organizations, foundations, government agencies, industries, business enterprises, or trade associations.

Community-engaged scholarship takes a variety of forms. Some examples include:

  • Research or inquiry that generates knowledge, or applies existing knowledge, to address practical problems and impacts on communities and the environment.
  • Research that leads to the establishment of companies or patents, since innovation and entrepreneurship are important for the translation of new knowledge generated by academic entities to the public.
  • Activities that involve the creation of literary works, the fine arts, performances, other expressions from creative disciplines or fields that are produced in collaboration with a public (non-university) entity or group.

To assist various review committees in their assessments, candidates for personnel actions and their departments are encouraged to include information that can provide contexts for, and insights into, the intellectual significance of their community-engaged research or scholarship. Information on related contributions to teaching, service and EDI efforts, where appropriate, would also assist the university’s review process.

Types of information from external reviewers may include the following:

  • Characteristics of community partners and their value in the community sphere, and the nature of the partnership.
  • Indications of the quality of the research or scholarship. Such indications will differ by field of study, but could include information on the selectivity and reputation of venues of publication, exhibition, or performance; types of external funding; awards; mentions of the significance of the work in public documents/venues; influence of the findings in policy or practice change at the level of the organization/s or at the broader local, regional or national levels; how the developing body of knowledge is making a significant difference in shaping the direction of the field or community practice.
  • Ways in which findings from the research were disseminated more broadly, such as in peer-reviewed publications; project reports; newsletters; websites; seminars; professional meetings; public performances; trainings; and online forums and other digital media. Information on the reach of non-traditional dissemination modes (such as non-peer reviewed publications) would also be welcomed.

External reviews are often solicited in the academic review process. In the case of faculty members who conduct community-engaged scholarship, departments are encouraged to solicit input from individuals, at peer-level academic institutions, who have the expertise to assess community-engaged scholarship. In addition, it may be appropriate to solicit external reviews from individuals who are not from institutions of higher education. Non-academic institutions could include government entities, foundations, community organizations, and private businesses, among others. Departments are encouraged to provide general guidance to non-academic reviewers regarding areas in which their input would be valuable. Examples include the type of collaboration; the value of the collaboration to the organization; the ways in which the products of the collaboration have enhanced policy, practice or other goals of the organization; and the value or impact of the products for the broader community or society, beyond the particular entity or entities involved in the collaboration.

Last Updated: January 26, 2024