Community-Engaged Scholarship


"Many untenured faculty find they must choose between 'doing the work that would contribute to career advancement' and doing the work of the institution in linking with communities and educating students."  Ron Richards, Building Partnerships for Health Professions Education, 1996

"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, 2000

Increasingly, academic institutions are addressing complex issues at home and around the world by engaging with key stakeholders outside of the academy. This engagement often takes the form of mutually beneficial partnerships that produce and apply knowledge. For the faculty involved, this means applying their expertise to real-world problems and collaborating with peers in other sectors who also bring their knowledge and wisdom to the table - a practice known as community-engaged scholarship (CES).

For most academic institutions, however, the incentives and supports needed for faculty to engage in this way are not in place across the campus. In particular, systems for faculty career advancement - including promotion, tenure and professional development - have not kept pace with changing faculty roles. For example, faculty are often rewarded more for publishing a paper in an academic journal than for contributing to meaningful change such as improving public education, revitalizing rural economies or expanding access to affordable housing.

At Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH), we are working to advance CES by focusing in four main areas:

  • Helping to build a cadre of community-engaged scholars - inside and outside of the academy - who have the values, knowledge and competencies they need to be successful.
  • Assisting academic institutions to amend their policies - including mission, strategic plans, hiring and review, promotion and tenure - to recognize and value CES.
  • Facilitating opportunities for community-engaged scholars to have their work peer-reviewed, published and widely disseminated - both to meet academic and community expectations of quality and impact.
  • Rethinking the whole concept of peer review, including who is considered to be a “peer”

Below we summarize our work in these areas and highlight our most requested resources. Visit our Resources pages for additional papers, reports, presentations and other products on CES.

Mobilize knowledge & advocate for supportive policies: For our 2000 conference, we commissioned a paper “Working with our Communities: Moving from Service to Scholarship in the Health Professions” to examine the current state of CES and identify persistent barriers. We next sought and obtained funding from the WK Kellogg Foundation for the Commission on Community-Engaged Scholarship in the Health Professions, an expert panel that in its landmark 2005 report, Linking Scholarship and Communities, recommended ways that health professional schools and their professional associations could recognize and reward community-engaged scholarship.

We have since led a series of national initiatives in the U.S. and Canada to advance community-engaged scholarship. With funding from the US Department of Education, the WK Kellogg Foundation and participating campuses, these initiatives have developed tools that support institutional change while also helping community-engaged scholars to overcome day-to-day challenges. These tools include:

Three community partners involved in our CES initiatives co-authored a paper on why faculty promotion and tenure matters to community partners and recommendations for involving community partners in the promotion and tenure process.

The Community-Engaged Scholarship (CES) listserv is a virtual meeting place for the growing network of people involved and interested in CES to share news items, ask questions and seek advice. We also tweet about CES.

Provide training and technical assistance: We provide on-site training and technical assistance in community-engaged scholarship through the CCPH Consultancy Network tailored to the particular needs of an organization or partnership. Popular requests include workshops for promotion and tenure committees on assessing CES and workshops for community-engaged faculty on making their best case for promotion and tenure and on publishing diverse products of CES. If you are looking for an expert in CES to give a presentation, lead a workshop, or provide consultation, contact us today!

CCPH conferences provide an opportunity to deepen your knowledge in CES through skill-building workshops, posters, exhibits and community site visits, not to mention the many informal opportunities to consult with experienced CES experts from around the world.

Build coalitions: In May 2010, the University of Guelph and CCPH invited Canadian universities that identified faculty roles and rewards as challenges to moving forward as community-engaged institutions to form an action-focused collaborative. The resulting Canadian Community-Engaged Scholarship Partnership is working to advance CES through institutional assessment and change, faculty assessment and scholar development.