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Defining Our Terms: Community Engagement, Scholarship, Knowledge Mobilization

  1. What is "community engagement"?
  2. How is engagement different from "outreach"?
  3. What makes an activity "scholarship"?
  4. What is "community-engaged scholarship"?
  5. How is community-engaged scholarship different than "service"?
  6. What is "evidence" and what is "documentation"?
  7. What is "community-based research"?
  8. What are the characteristics of quality community-engaged scholarship?
  9. What is "knowledge mobilization"?
  10. How can I document community-engaged scholarship in a dossier?

 


What is "community engagement"?

Community engagement is “collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity”.

(Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, n.d.)

Download a more detailed definition of community engagement developed for the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences at the University of Guelph.

 


 

How is engagement different from "outreach"?

Outreach has traditionally been associated with the dissemination of information to public audiences. Such dissemination has taken numerous forms but it is typically one-way communication rather than an exchange. Engagement implies a partnership and a two-way exchange of information, ideas, and expertise as well as shared decision-making.

(Jordan, 2007). Reprinted here with permission from Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.

 


 

What makes an activity “scholarship”?

 The following list of characteristics of scholarship is adapted from Recognizing Faculty Work, by Robert Diamond and Bronwyn Adam (1993).

  • The activity requires a high level of discipline expertise.
  • The activity breaks new ground or is innovative.
  • The activity can be replicated and elaborated.
  • The work and its results can be documented.
  • The work and its results can be peer reviewed.
  • The activity has significance or impact.

More simply stated, scholarship is work that is public, peer reviewed and available in a platform that others may build on. Faculty members take a scholarly approach when they systematically design, implement, assess and redesign an activity, drawing from the literature and best practices in the field.

Scholarship is, at its heart, about contributing to a body of knowledge. Such contributions could be in the form of the creation of new knowledge or the dissemination of knowledge.

Creation of knowledge is not just research. Integrating existing knowledge in new ways, making linkages, applying knowledge in new ways, or coming up with new methods would also be considered part of creating knowledge. Simply conducting a research project might not be considered scholarly unless the project results are documented, able to be reviewed by peers (including practitioners, policy makers, community members, etc. if appropriate) and disseminated.

Dissemination is not just publishing. It is teaching and consulting, community talks, legislative testimony, media presentations, etc. Dissemination is about putting knowledge in the public domain.

(Jordan, 2007). Reprinted here with permission from Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.

 


 

What is “community-engaged scholarship”?

Community-engaged scholarship (CES) involves the researcher in a mutually beneficial partnership with the community and results in scholarship deriving from teaching, discovery, integration, application or engagement.



(Jordan, 2007). Adapted here with permission from Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.

 


 

How is community-engaged scholarship different than “service”?

Community-engaged scholarship integrates engagement with the community into research and teaching activities (broadly defined). Engagement is a feature of these scholarly activities, not a separate activity. Service implies offering one’s expertise and effort to the institution, the discipline or the community, but it lacks the core qualities of scholarship.

(Jordan, 2007). Reprinted here with permission from Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.

 


 

Demonstrating community engaged scholarship: What is “evidence” and what is “documentation”?

In the section on characteristics of quality community-engaged scholarship, each description of a characteristic is followed by a set of bullets providing examples of evidence of that characteristic. Evidence includes the behaviors, activities, and qualities consistent with a given characteristic. Documentation is how the scholar presents that evidence in a dossier.

(Jordan, 2007). Reprinted here with permission from Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.

 


 

What is “community-based research” (CBR)?

CBR Canada defines community-based research as:

…creating and mobilizing knowledge for action by communities, civil society, policy makers, and stakeholders in all of the key areas affecting the future social, economic, and environmental sustainability of Canada. It engages communities and their citizens in the creation, design, implementation and use of research to meet their needs.

(CBR Canada, n.d.)

 


What are the characteristics of quality community-engaged scholarship?

Quality and significance of scholarship are the primary criteria for determining faculty promotion and tenure. Quality and significance of scholarship are overarching, integrative concepts that apply equally to the expressions of scholarship as they may appear in various disciplines and to accomplishments resulting from various forms of faculty work, such as research and teaching.

A consistently high quality of scholarship, and its promise for future exemplary scholarship, is more important than the quantity of the work done.

The following 8 characteristics are intended as the basis for the evaluation of the quality and significance of Community-Engaged Scholarship (CES):

  1. Clear Academic and Community Change Goals
  2. Adequate Preparation in Content Area and Grounding in the Community
  3. Appropriate Methods: Rigor and Community Engagement
  4. Significant Results: Impact on the Field and the Community
  5. Effective Presentation/Dissemination to Academic and Community Audiences
  6. Reflective Critique: Lessons Learned to Improve the Scholarship and Community Engagement
  7. Leadership and Personal Contribution
  8. Consistently Ethical Behavior: Socially Responsible Conduct of Research and Teaching

(Jordan, 2007*). Reprinted here with permission from Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.

 


 

What is “knowledge mobilization”?

Knowledge mobilization relates to the flow of knowledge and information among multiple individuals and groups, leading to intellectual, social, and economic benefits. Knowledge mobilization aims to allow the exchange of research knowledge both between university researchers and the wider community, and across different academic disciplines.

(Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, 2010)

Download a more detailed definition of knowledge mobilization developed for the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences at the University of Guelph.

 


 

How can I document community-engaged scholarship in a dossier?

The following are suggestions of documents that could be included or adapted in a dossier to document the quality of a scholar's community-engaged work:

  1. Career Statement
  2. Curriculum Vita
  3. Statement of Assigned Responsibilities
  4. Teaching Portfolios
  5. Letters of Support/Appreciation from Community Members/Partners
  6. Peer Review Letters from Community Leaders
  7. Publications in Media Aimed at Community Partners
  8. Peer-Reviewed Publications that Report on Community-Engaged Scholarship

Depending on each institution and department' standards and guidelines for preparing promotion and tenure materials, some of these may or may not be useful to individual scholars. Community-engaged scholars are encouraged to use these ideas in the context of the requirements of the institutions in which they work.

(Jordan, 2007). Reprinted here with permission from Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.

 


References

Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (n.d.). Classification Description: Community Engagement Classification. Retrieved from http://carnegieclassifications.iu.edu

Community Research Canada (2008). What is CBR? Retrieved from http://communityresearchcanada.ca/?action=who_are_we#cb

Jordan C. (Editor) (2007). Community-Engaged Scholarship Review, Promotion & Tenure Package. Peer Review Workgroup, Community-Engaged Scholarship for Health Collaborative, Community-Campus Partnerships for Health. Complete document available at http://depts.washington.edu/ccph/pdf_files/CES_RPT_Package.pdf.

*The characteristics of quality community-engaged scholarship are drawn and adapted from these sources: Portland State University Promotion and Tenure guidelines, University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine Promotion and Tenure guidelines, National Review Board for the Scholarship of Engagement guidelines, and Glassick C, Huber M and Maeroff G, Scholarship Assessed: Evaluation of the Professoriate, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1997.

Social Science and Humanities Research Council (2010). Community Engagement and Knowledge Mobilization. Retrieved from http://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/society-societe/community-communite/index-eng.aspx