Curator: Clayton Hurd, Stanford University

Defining Engaged Scholarship

Engaged scholarship (ES) can be defined as scholarly activities focused on the social, civic, economic, educational, artistic, scientific, environmental, and cultural well-being of people and places beyond the academy. It involves the creation and dissemination of new knowledge to address social issues through collaborative relationships and shared activity between those in the university and those outside the university. ES aims for impact beyond publication in specialized academic journals and the number of citations in faculty publications. Research that is publicly engaged aims for the advancement and utilization of knowledge with societally-relevant outcomes and therefore is inclusive of a range of products that have value and relevance to public audiences. 

While research is an important feature of ES, it should not be considered synonymous with it. Faculty take part in a broader range of creative intellectual work in the name of public engagement, collaborating with community partners outside the campus for the purposes of addressing community issues, improving teaching and learning, creating new and relevant knowledge, and developing civic learning opportunities associated with the public relevance of disciplines. Indeed, these scholarly activities connect the core functions of higher education – the generation and dissemination of knowledge – to the needs of the public. In this sense, public engagement can be clearly articulated and should be valued and rewarded in all areas of faculty scholarly work including teaching, research and creative activity, and service.

The section below highlights foundational readings on the nature and purpose of engaged scholarship in higher education.  This listing is followed by a more inclusive and search-able database of resources maintained by Campus Compact that provides diverse, transdisciplinary models and examples of engaged scholarship. 

Expand All
Annotated Bibliography of Readings on Engaged Scholarship

Academic Affairs Committee of the Syracuse University Senate. (2007). Learning about scholarship in action in concept and practice: A white paper.

    • In an address to the campus at the end of her inaugural year (April, 2005), Chancellor Nancy Cantor announced her vision of Syracuse University as a Creative Campus whose faculty and students would be deeply engaged with the world, interacting with local and global communities in productive relationships and activities that she named "scholarship in action." Recognizing the difficulty of fitting such public or community-engaged scholarship into the traditional framework for defining and evaluating faculty work, she called on the Academic Affairs Committee of the Senate to study the issues related to implementing this vision. This is a study of scholarship of action both as a concept and as a set of faculty practices.

American Association of State Colleges and Universities. (2002). Stepping forward as stewards of place: A guide for leading public engagement at state colleges and universities. Washington, DC: AASCU.

    • This is AASCU's task force report on public engagement, a practical and strategic guide for state college and university leaders who want to more deeply embed public engagement in the fabric of their institution at the campus, college, and departmental levels. The report includes sections on challenges and importance of, and recommendations and guidelines for, quality engaged practice.

Barge, J. & Shockley-Zalabak, P. (2008). Engaged scholarship and the creation of useful organizational knowledge. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 36 (3), 251-265.

    • Engaged scholarship represents one way for making research relevant to organizational practitioners by bridging the gap between theory and practice. Engaged scholarship is viewed as a form of collaborative inquiry between academics and practitioners that leverages their different perspectives to generate useful organizational knowledge. This article explores the possibilities associated with engaged scholarship in three specific contexts: (1) theory-building and research, (2) pedagogy, teaching, and education, and (3) institutional opportunities and constraints as they relate to issues of tenure and promotion and creation of the engaged campus.

Benson, L. Harkavy, I., & Puckett, J. (2007). Dewey's dream: Universities and democracies in an age of education reform (especially pp. 77-113). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

    • In this section of the book, the authors assert that by working toward solving the overall problems of the public school system, the University of Pennsylvania will be much better able to achieve its traditional mission to advance, preserve, and transmit knowledge. At the same time, the University will help produce well-educated citizens necessary for a genuine democratic society.

Boyer, E. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. Princeton, NJ: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

    • This seminal work on the four types of scholarship--discovery, integration, application, and teaching--led the way for Boyer's subsequent naming of the scholarship of engagement in his 1996 Journal of Public Service and Outreach article.

Boyer, E. (1996). The scholarship of engagement. Journal of Public Service and Outreach, 1(1), 11-20.

    • In this article, Boyer coined the term "scholarship of engagement" and discussed its relationship to his reconceptualization of scholarship as discovery, integration, application, and teaching. Posted with permission of the Journal of Public Service and Outreach (now the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement).

Bradbury-Huang, H. (2010). What is good action research? Why the resurgent interest? Action Research, 8(1), 93-109.

    • What makes a good action research project/paper? This article defines action research as knowledge creation arising in the context of practice requiring the researchers to work with practitioners to effect change through this generation of knowledge. How does action research relate to qualitative research, and business consulting? What are the perceptions, core features, and aims of action research? An experienced engaged scholar writes this paper as a “Note from the Field”. As she outlines her specific experience, she addresses the questions above and also discusses examples of research projects, criteria for scholars looking to publish their work, engagement in scholarly-practitioner partnerships, and misconceptions of the practice.

Campus Compact (2016). 30th Anniversary Action Statement of Presidents and Chancellors. 

  • In recognition of Campus Compact‘s 30th anniversary in 2015-16, our Board of Directors asked member presidents and chancellors to join in signing an Action Statement, a declaration of shared commitment to the public purposes of higher education and a promise to develop a Campus Civic Action Plan to realize those purposes more fully. Since then, more than 450 Presidents and Chancellors have signed on, committing their campuses to create and publicly share Civic Action Plans within a year.

Community Based Research Collaborative (2021). In it together: Community-based research guidelines for communities and higher education. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah.

    • These guidelines, developed by a community-campus collective, offer advice for both community-based and campus-based people who want to do collaborative research. This is an updated and revised version of the 2007 University Neighborhood Partners Report, Guidelines for Community-Based Research. This new version includes an expanded set of principles and integrates lessons learned from the growth of CBR over the last 15 years

Commission on Community-Engaged Scholarship in the Health Professions. (2005). Linking scholarship and communities: Report of the Commission on Community-Engaged Scholarship in the Health Professions. Seattle: Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.

    • This comprehensive report, focused on the health professions, reviews a conceptualization of engaged scholarship, identifies the significant gap that exists between the promise of health professional schools as engaged institutions and the reality of how faculty members are typically judged and rewarded, and makes recommendations on how to close this gap. It acknowledges that recognizing and rewarding community engaged scholarship in the health professions will require changes not only in the wording of institutional policies and procedures but in the culture of institutions and professions. Leadership is needed from academic institutions and the external stakeholders that influence their values and priorities, including government, peer-reviewed journals, and accrediting bodies.

Cooper, D. (2009). The university in national development: The role of use-inspired research. Proposed comparative case studies of community-engaged research. Appeared as original essay in TRUCEN Engaged Scholarship Toolkit. 

    • This essay by a University of Cape Town professor of sociology summarizes his community-engaged research concerns and activities, and proposes an investigation and theorization of how universities might become more deeply engaged with civil society, particularly with respect to research relations with local and regional government bodies, community and civic organizations, labor and other non-governmental organizations etc.

Couto, R. (2001). The promise of a scholarship of engagement. Academic Workplace, 4-7.

    • The author discusses the key elements of participatory action research and the importance of engaging with the community population rather than social service providers, and provides some principles of good practice. He describes a case study that involved him and his students.

Fear, F., Rosaen, C., Bawden, R., & Foster-Fishman, P. (2006). Coming to critical engagement: an autoethnographic exploration: Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

    • This volume is an outgrowth of discussion generated through and by faculty members of the engaged learning community at Michigan State University. It uses a blend of scholarly and personal inquiry coupled with collegial discourse to examine the nature of scholarly engagement. Descriptions of personal journeys in navigating university and community systems, examination of the ethics and value of the work are combined with theory and critical reflection to provide authentic and meaningful views of engaged scholarship.

Giles, D.E., Jr., (2016). Understanding an emerging field of scholarship: Toward a research agenda for engaged, public scholarship. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 20 (1), 181-191.

    • This article synthesizes contributions to two special issues of the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement (Volume 12) to develop a comprehensive view of this emerging field, ‘which as yet has many names and a number of dif ferent emphases, conceptualizations, and research questions.’ It argues that only an engaged process can ultimately clarify this emerging field and enable it to move forward with a research agenda. Such a process would include practitioner and community voices, be interactive, and be encouraged and supported by additional outlets for scholarly exploration.

Holland, et al. (2010). Models of engaged scholarship: An interdisciplinary discussion. Collaborative Anthropologies, 3, 1-36.

    • This article reports on discussions of an interdisciplinary group of scholars at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) on various models of engaged scholarship in anthropology, public health, communications and other social and behavioral sciences, and the new ways of understanding engaged scholarship that are emerging at UNC and other research universities. The models examined are: community-based participatory research; public anthropology and sociology; critical race theory; public dialogues; “crisis disciplines”; and social entrepreneurship. The authors identify core themes and “problematics” across the models and offer suggestions for future research and practice.

Horowitz, C.R., Robinson, M., & Seifer, S. (2009). Community-Based Participatory Research From the Margin to the Mainstream: Are Researchers Prepared? Circulation, 119, 2633-2642.

    • Developing sustainable and scalable strategies to prevent and control cardiovascular diseases is a challenging but necessary undertaking. This article asserts the ways in which CBPR is the appropriate approach to developing these strategies, providing background on CBPR in the following topics: definition, purpose, benefits, effectiveness, implementation, partnerships, study design, funding and ethics review, dissemination of findings, and translation of research to practice/policy.

Howard, J. (2007). Powerpoint slide of a Venn diagram that reflects the three essential components of engaged scholarship: involves the community, benefits the community, and advances the faculty member's scholarship. University of Michigan.  

Howard, J. (2007). Powerpoint slide: Distinguishing engaged scholarship from faculty volunteering and professional service. University of Michigan. 

    • Volunteering may benefit a community, but it doesn't necessarily draw on the faculty member's expertise nor advance her/his scholarship. Professional service draws on the faculty member's expertise but doesn't advance her/his scholarship. Engaged scholarship necessarily taps the faculty member's expertise and advances her/his scholarship.

Howard, J. (2007) Powerpoint slide: Is it engaged scholarship? An exploratory assessment heuristic to assist campuses in determining whether or not a community-engaged project qualifies as engaged scholarship. University of Michigan. 

    • This heuristic or an adaptation thereof may be useful to campus administrators and faculty in distinguishing engaged scholarship from other forms of scholarship at their university.

Jacquez, F., Vaughn, L. M., & Wagner, E. (2013). Youth as partners, participants or passive recipients: A review of children and adolescents in community-based participatory research (CBPR). American Journal of Community Psychology, 51(1-2), 176-189.

    • This is a review of the CBPR literature related to youth. The review finds that a minority of the studies (15%) actually partnered with youth in some phase of the research process. This article outlines the content, methodology, and phases of youth partnership, provides exemplars of CBPR with youth, and discusses the state of the youth-partnered research literature.

Janke, E.M., & Shelton, T.L. (2011). Community Engagement: Terms and Definitions for Promotion and Tenure Guidelines. Community Engagement Initiative, University of North Carolina Greensboro. 1-10.

    • The University of North Carolina at Greensboro developed this document to inform the re-examination of community engagement policies and practices. The document provides definitions of community-engaged scholarship, community-engaged research/creative activity, community-engaged teaching, and distinguishes these topics from “community service” or “outreach”.

Kinsler, K. (2010). The utility of educational action research for emancipatory change. Action Research, 8(2), 171-189.

    • Although the potential of action research (AR) to advance social justice and emancipatory change has become a popular and accepted concept, educational AR has fallen short of achieving these aims. This article focuses on how educational AR has been used as a method for teaching, increasing professional efficacy, implementing policy, and how each method of educational AR has its own emancipatory potential and challenges.

Kruss, G. (2012). Reconceptualizing engagement: a conceptual framework for analyzing university interaction with external social partners. South African Review of Sociology, 43(2), 5-26.

    • This article contributes to the theoretical debate around the definition of “community engagement” in South Africa. It presents a conceptual framework that was developed to measure and map existing engaged academic activities. The article explains how the framework was developed, and how it can be used to guide empirical research, institutional strategic planning, and national higher education policy processes.

Michigan State University Committee on Evaluating Quality Outreach. (1996, 2000). Points of distinction: A guidebook for planning and evaluating quality outreach. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Outreach and Engagement.

    • This guidebook encourages discussion about the values and evidence associated with quality outreach and engagement. Four dimensions of quality outreach include: significance, context, scholarship, and impact. Components, sample evaluation questions, and qualitative and quantitative indicators for each dimension are suggested as rigorous ways for both individual faculty and academic units to plan, document, and evaluate outreach scholarship.

Minkler, M., Garcia, A.P., Rubin, V. & Wallerstein, N. (2012).  Community-based participatory research: A strategy for building healthy communities and promoting health through policy change.  Oakland, CA: PolicyLink.

    • This 60 page report to The California Endowment offers an overview of community based participatory research (CBPR) – its definition and principles – and discussion of this research practice as a policy change tool.  Eight “promising CBPR practices” are highlighted along with six case studies of CBPR utilized to effect policy change in California.  The monograph concludes with a chapter on evaluating CBPR processes and outcomes and comprehensive lists of helpful websites and other CBPR resources.

Nyden, P. (2006) The challenges and opportunities of engaged research. In Silka, L., ed., Scholarship in action: Applied research and community change (HUD's Office of University Partnerships).

    • The use of engaged methods such as collaborative university-community research, is examined as a way of strengthening traditional academic research. Particular focus is placed on a collaborative model combining university-based and community-based knowledge. The Loyola University Chicago Center for Urban Research and Learning is used as a case study. The incorporation of grassroots research into broader research initiatives promises to increase the quality of research and connections among communities at national and international levels.

O'Meara, K. & Rice, R.E. (2005). Faculty priorities reconsidered: Rewarding multiple forms of scholarship. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    • This book features case studies of nine institutions grappling with reform of faculty roles and rewards and how institutional cultures, values, history, type, and internal and external forces influenced their efforts. The case studies are sandwiched between chapters tracing the history of the movement to redefine scholarship and the impact of this movement at the national level, and concludes with a guide to "best practices, strategies, and campus examples" and lessons learned from an inquiry into the scholarly work of faculty. While not focused on community-engaged scholarship per se, the book includes references to this work providing a rich institutionally focused context for considering it.

Pine, G. (2009). Teacher action research: Building democracies. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 1-396. DOI: 10.4135/9781452275079

    • Written as a textbook for graduate level courses in action research, this book considers action research as a vehicle to develop knowledge democracies. It explores why action research is practiced, discusses the historical origin of the practice and relation to other theoretical perspectives, and offers research methods and case studies illustrating how action research contributes to democratic inquiry within institutions.

Post, M., Ward, E., Longo, N, and Saltmarsh, J., Eds. (2016). Publicly Engaged Scholars: Next-Generation Engagement and the Future of Higher Education. Sterling, VA.: Stylus, 312 pp. ISBN 978-1-62036-264-8

  • This book presents the voice of a new generation of scholars, educators, and practitioners who are committed to civic renewal and the public purposes of higher education. They question existing policies, structures, and practices, and put forward new forms of engagement that can help to shape and transform higher education to align it with societal needs.

Roche, B., Guta, A., & Flicker, S. (2010). Peer research in action I: Models of practice. Community Based Research Working Paper Series. The Wellesley Institute, 2-18.  

    • This resource is the first paper of a three-part series by the Wellesley Institute that focuses on peer research models practiced in Toronto. The authors define peer research as, “a popular form of community-based research where community members are trained and supported to participate as co-researchers.”  How have CBR partnerships defined peer research and integrated it into their CBR projects? What challenges have these research projects encountered in the peer research process? The Wellesley Institute conducted interviews and held focus groups to answer these questions, and identified three models of peer research: advisory, employment, and partner models. The study suggests that the partner model has the greatest potential to facilitate true inclusion of community members, and concludes with recommendations for CBR teams on how to use a model of peer research to guide their work.

Sandmann, L. (2008). Conceptualization of the scholarship of engagement in higher education: A strategic review, 1996-2006. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 12(1), 91-104.

    • During the past decade, the generalized concept of the scholarship of engagement has evolved. Once a broad call for higher education to be more responsible to communities, it is now a multifaceted field of responses. This article describes the evolution of the term; then, to clarify the "definitional anarchy" that has arisen around its use, it explores the past decade's punctuations in the evolutionary progress of the concept. Finally, it calls for moving beyond descriptive, narrative works to more critical, empirical research as well as policy analysis and introduces the possibility that the next punctuation will be the development of engaged scholarship's own theory.

Sandmann, L. (2009). Placing scholarly engagement "on the desk." Original TRUCEN Engaged Scholarship Toolkit essay. 

    • This essay focuses on the need to frame engagement as scholarship and to gain support for faculty members who do this type of work from institutional leaders.

Schon, D. (1995). Knowing-in-action: The new scholarship requires a new epistemology. Change, 32(1), Nov-Dec, 44-52.

    • In this article, the author who coined the term "reflective practitioner," insists that if we are going to broaden our conceptualization of scholarship we must commensurately broaden our conceptualization of epistemology, from only detached ways of knowing to more connected and community-based ways of knowing.

Scobey, D. (2004) Making use of all our faculties: Public scholarship and the future of Campus Compact. Campus Compact 20th anniversary celebration. Available through Campus Compact.

Shirk, J. L., Ballard, H. L., Wilderman, C. C., Phillips, T., Wiggins, A., Jordan, R., & Bonney, R. (2012). Public participation in scientific research: A framework for deliberate design. Ecology and Society, 17(2), Article 29.

    • This article reviews and integrates recent scientific research involving public participation. In order to describe the current set of initiatives from diverse academic fields and traditions, the authors propose the term “public participation in scientific research (PPSR)”. The article describes three predominant models of PPSR, and offers a framework that considers how scientific and public interests are negotiated for project design. The authors suggest that this framework and models can be used to support deliberate design of PPSR efforts that will enhance their outcomes for scientific research, individual participants, and social–ecological systems.

Smith, L., Bratini, L., Chambers, D.A., Jensen, R.V., & Romero, L. (2010). Between idealism and reality: Meeting the challenges of participatory action research. Action Research, 8(4), 407-425.

    • Participatory action research (PAR) is a methodological stance that researchers can find both inspiring and daunting. Community-based PAR offers a platform by which social scientists can contribute to the democratization of knowledge and its production, but also requires that they go beyond conventional roles and procedures to interact with community co-researchers in ways that may leave university-based researchers feeling exposed and rudderless. In this article, the authors present episodes from three different PAR projects that illustrate some of the challenges that PAR presents for university-based researchers, as well as what can be learned from them. (Smith et al, 2010, p. 407)

Stanton, T. (2007). New times demand new scholarship II: Research universities and civic engagement—opportunities and challenges. Report of The Research University Community Engagement Network (TRUCEN).

    • This report highlights the discussion at the UCLA TRUCEN gathering, with a focus on engaged scholarship. Figure 2, Degrees of Collaborative Processes in Engaged Scholarship, differentiates unilateral vs. mutual determination of each stage of a research process, from the research question to the application of findings. Figure 3, Outcomes of Engaged Research, demarcates four unequal quadrants reflecting low and high academic and community outcomes. The report also addresses scholarship on engagement, educating students for civic engagement, and institutionalizing civic engagement.

Strum, Susan; Eatman, Timothy; Saltmarch, John; and Bush, Adam (2011). Full Participation: Building the Architecture for Diversity and Community Engagement in Higher Education (2011). Imagining America. 17.

  • This catalyst paper offers a conceptual framework for connecting a set of conversations about change in higher education that often proceed separately but need to be brought together to gain traction within both the institutional and national policy arenas. By offering a framework to integrate projects and people working under the umbrella of equity, diversity, and inclusion with those working under the umbrella of community, public, and civic engagement, we aim to integrate both of these change agendas with efforts on campus to address the access and success of traditionally underserved students. We also hope to connect efforts targeting students, faculty, and broader communities in each of these arenas. We offer an approach that situates the integration of these change agendas squarely within the core values and mission of higher education.

Walshok, M. (1995). Knowledge without borders: What America's research universities can do for the economy, the workplace, and the community. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    • The author reveals the untapped potential of research universities for delivering and helping to apply the critical knowledge that society needs to maintain and build economic, workforce, and civic capabilities. She explores the evolution and expansion of America's dependence on new knowledge and the importance of that knowledge as a critical resource that supports and drives virtually all social and economic progress.

Other Resources on "Engaged Scholarship"