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Community Based Research

Page history last edited by Kelly Behrend 13 years, 11 months ago

Guide to Understanding Community Based Research (CBR) and How to Make It Happen On Your Campus

Definition | Implementation | Participating Schools | Testimonials


Welcome to Community-Based Research, often known as CBR, or Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR). CBR is a form of service, in which community organizations or residents identify a need they have that can be fulfilled by academic research or work conducted, often with their involvement and direction, by students and faculty.  As a result, the community benefits from research or knowledge that can help it meet its needs.  For instance, a community might want a water-quality survey for environmental planning and protection. Or an agency might want to know how to better serve bilingual clients.  In any case, CBR is often done in the context of a course, with academic credit available. Bonners and other students can be involved in this. In fact, in terms of the developmental model, our vision is that most Bonners will find a way to participate in CBR (or other course linkages) at some point in the program. This page will guide you through the information you need to know in order to better understand CBR.



Community Based Research is an important strategy for civic engagement and extension of our work with community partners.  Many consider it a part of service-learning.

  • Community Based Research is research done in a specific course where the specific research question is driven by a community partner. This is an action oriented type of research where your work will help your community partner take the necessary steps in order to  help their needs. This research yields results that matter to the community.
Here are a couple of examples of Community Based Research courses that have taken place! This proves that you can make this academic connection happen too! 
  • Wahington and Lee University- Course called Sociology 264 Work and Family: This course researched ways in which work affects family life and studied different dynamics of family including single parenting, race, gender, dual parenting, etc;
  • Emory and Henry College- Course called Public Policy and Community Service 200 Community Organizing. This course was designed for students to understand all that goes behind community organizing and how and why people get involved in their communities.



Want to know how to get a Community Based Research course on your campus? Follow these easy steps and watch it happen!

  1. Create a Partnership With a Professor- If you are going to incorporate service into academics, you need professors and faculty. Find a professor who is interested in an issue you are interested in. Perhaps there is a professor on campus who is involved with a community partner already. See if they are researching topics for the partner. You want to create and sustain a good relationship with people teaching classes because when you work together, things are more likely to be accomplished. Have faculty members come to Bonner events, orientation, retreats, or trips. Integrate them into your world of service so that they see the benefits of Community Based Research in the classroom.
  2. Create an Academic Connections Board- If you are unsure of how to integrate CBR into the classroom, make a board up of interested students and faculty. Hold a meeting and brainstorm strategies.  This way, you can all come up with what partner/s you would like to work with and the drive for academic connections becomes more focused.
  3. Help Design a Course- Find out if there are any classes in your school's curriculum that pertain to the service you are doing. For example, if you're tutoring, which courses might deal not only with classroom management or children's learning, but also with school reform, educational policy, or the link of education to income.  Talk to the professor teaching that course and tell them about your service connection. Work with them to introduce service-learning or CBR projects to the existing class.  Or suggest a new course designed around the subject matter that would incroporate CBR. Some colleges even have ways for students to design and co-teach (or enlist community members to teach) a new course or add a credit option. You can check your school's policies regarding students designing courses and if it's okay, go for it! Connect with faculty who may be willing to help you out on your journey and are even willing to sponsor or teach the course.


Participating Schools

This is a list of campuses participating in the Bonner Foundation's current national networking initiative to promote community-based research (CBR).  Check out more at www.cbrnet.org.  

  1. Berea College
  2. Carson Newman College
  3. Concord University
  4. Davidson College
  5. DePauw University
  6. Dickinson College
  7. Emory and Henry College
  8. Guilford College
  9. Hamilton College
  10. Hood College
  11. Lynchburg College
  12. Macalaster College
  13. Mars Hill College
  14. Maryville College
  15. Middlesex County College
  16. Morehouse College
  17. Pitzer College
  18. Rider University
  19. Ripon College
  20. St. Mary's College of California
  21. Stetson University
  22. The College of New Jersey
  23. Tougaloo College
  24. Tusculum College
  25. Union College
  26. University of Alaska-Anchorage
  27. University of Louisville
  28. Washburn University
  29. Washington and Lee University
  30. Whitworth University 



Testimonials of students and community partners participating in Community Based Research

  • Video

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