CU Boulder Doctoral Students Invited to Apply for Graduate Fellowship in Community-Based Research

Published: March 2, 2017 By ,

CU Engage is now accepting CBR Graduate Fellowship applications through April 24, 2017 at 5pm.
CU-Boulder doctoral students who will be in their 2nd-5th years during AY17-18 are eligible to apply.
There is no application form or online form to fill out; please see the details, below, about what to include in your completed application. 
Completed applications should be saved and submitted as a single PDF document and emailed to cuengage@colorado.edu. Please note "CBR Fellowship Application" in the email subject line.

CBR FellowsAre you a PhD student interested in gaining knowledge and training in the practices and principles of Community-Based Research (CBR)?

CU Engage’s Graduate Fellowship in Community-Based Research models a strategy for universities to prepare doctoral students for public scholarship. Whereas emerging scholars are often forced to make a choice – “either engage in the community or do peer-reviewed research” – this fellowship is designed to enable future scholars to build strong academic careers while working on public issues in partnership with community groups.The CBR Fellowship is designed for a cohort of 4-5 PhD students; doctoral students from all academic departments at CU-Boulder are eligible to participate. The purpose is to train a generation of scholars in the practices and principles of Community-Based Research.

Overview of Community-Based Research (CBR)

The goal of CBR is to broaden who participates in the production of knowledge and to use new knowledge to raise awareness about or develop solutions to pressing public problems. Eligible projects are those where CU doctoral students collaborate with people outside of the university to formulate a research or creative project that examines an issue of public concern and leads to new ideas for policy or practice. Guided by values of equity, social justice, and broadening participation, CBR projects build capacity for the partner organization and contribute to social change.

Read about CBR Fellowship projects from 2015-16 and 2016-17, which included graduate students from disciplines such as Mechanical Engineering, Education, Computer Science, and Geography.

We give priority to partnerships with people or organizations working with historically marginalized communities or projects that work to promote equity. Because we want to encourage graduate students to align CBR with their academic training and traditions, we are open to a range of types of projects. Although the language of community-based research tends to prioritize social science or citizen science methods, we welcome applications from the arts and humanities which characterize their research as creative work.

Benefits to CBR Graduate Fellows

  • Professional development and training to become skilled practitioners of CBR

  • Membership in ongoing scholarly cohort community and introduction to national network of engaged scholars

  • Option for one or two semesters of funding equivalent to .25 Graduate RAship per semester during the 2017-18 year, including up to 5 tuition reimbursement credits per semester.

  • Eligibility to apply for additional funds for materials or community partner stipends depending on project needs (up to $500 per project)

Requirements of the Fellowship

  • Participate in CBR Summer Institute that introduces Fellows to critical social theory and roots of community-based participatory research (three 4-hour sessions, with required reading, during the month of June, exact dates TBD) led by Ben Kirshner. Disbursement of RAship funds is contingent on satisfactory completion of Institute.

  • Participate in student-led bi-weekly research seminar focused on building the capacity of Fellows to carry out high quality ethical CBR with readings .

  • Satisfactory progress on CBR project during AY 2017-18, including evidence of reciprocity with community partner. Satisfactory progress will depend on the stage of the project when it begins - this will be clarified with each Fellow at the beginning of the year.

  • Collaboratively design and implement CBR Showcase in Spring 2018 (details to be determined by Fellows). See photos from the 2016 showcase here.

  • Submit a scholarly paper to an academic conference or journal by Sept. 1, 2018.

CBR fellowTo Apply

Applications are due by April 24, 2017 by 5pm. Completed applications should be submitted as a single PDF to cuengage@colorado.edu. Please note "CBR Fellowship Application" in the email subject line.

Applications must include the following elements (letters should be emailed to cuengage@colorado.edu together with the application):

  • Project title (10 words or less)

  • Curriculum Vitae

  • Project proposal (no more than 1500 words, double-spaced)

    • Abstract (250 words)

    • Rationale for the project, addressing both the compelling policy or practice rationale and why current literature is inadequate (500 words)

    • Proposed research methodology, including planned data collection strategy that addresses how project decisions will be made collaboratively with the community partners (500 words)

    • Anticipated project significance for addressing the focal issue and scholarly contribution (250 words)

  • Personal professional narrative (250 words)

    • How does this project advance the applicant’s professional development?

  • Letter of support from community partner: letter should speak to the nature of the relationship and the importance of the project.

  • Letter of support from faculty advisor: letter should speak directly to a) how this project will advance the candidate's doctoral training, b) that these funds will enable work that is not already funded through an existing grant, and c) what role the advisor will play in supporting the project throughout the year. Advisors should verify that the student will have another 25% appointment.

Timeline for Selection and Disbursement of Funds

  • April 24 – Application deadline

  • May 15 – Award recipients selected

  • First two weeks of August – CBR Summer Seminar (12 contact hours, dates TBD)

  • August 30, 2017 – Funds transferred to department speedtype

Selection Criteria

  • Project proposals should illustrate for the selection committee how their project reflects principles of ethical community engagement, with particular regard to:

    • participation by research partners in defining or identifying the research question

    • evidence of an established relationship with community partner or sufficient promise of a collaborative relationship

    • show how the project broadens participation in who contributes to the production of knowledge

    • questions or topics that reflect concerns for people in communities, schools, or neighborhoods facing complex public challenges

  • In addition, priority will be given to proposals that:

    • Are linked to the applicant’s professional goals and academic training (for example, we encourage projects that are linked to applicant’s dissertation, either as pilot work or the dissertation itself)

    • Show strong support from faculty advisor in home department

    • Integrate compelling community or public need with meaningful scholarly contribution to student’s academic field or emerging scholarly field of CBR

  • Community partners must be groups whose primary membership is not employees or students of CU-Boulder; these groups should be guided by missions of strengthening democracy, the resilience of communities, or the quality of public-serving institutions (such as schools). They can be located anywhere in the world.

FAQs about CBR Fellowship Projects

  • Can a project be proposed in which the partner is outside of Colorado or outside of the United States?

    • Answer: We discourage projects that face logistical barriers to communication and interaction with partners. However, you are still eligible to apply, particularly you can explain how your work will be consistent with principles of collaboration and reciprocity despite geographic distance.

  • Can an applicant receive the Fellowship if data has already been collected?

    • Answer: Most quality proposals will still have data to collect or fieldwork to complete. However, if data were collected in context of a participatory or collaborative project and applicant can describe how analysis and communication of findings will have a collaborative element, then you are encouraged to apply.

  • What scholarly resources exist to help me understand community-based research?

    • Answer: At the end of this document we have listed resources from a variety of disciplines that define and discuss CBR. We strongly encourage candidates to review some of these materials  to develop the most compelling argument for your project.

Please email Ben.Kirshner@colorado.edu with additional questions.

Related Posts:
New Cohort of CU Engage Community-Based Research Graduate Fellows Selected (2016)
CU Engage Announces Inaugural Cohort of Community-Based Reserach Fellows (2015)
CU Engage webpage about Community-Based Research Graduate Fellowship

CBR Scholarly Resources

Aaron, KF, & O’Toole TP (2003). Community-based participatory research (Special issue). J Gen Intern Med 18(7):592-594. 


Ansley F., & Gaventa, J.: Researching for democracy and democratizing research. Change, January- February, 1997, pp. 46-53. 


Israel, B. A. et al. (1998). Review of community-based research: Assessing 
partnership approaches to improve public health. Annu Rev Public Health 19:173-202.



Jurow, A.S., Teeters, L., Shea, M., & Van Steenis, E. (2016). Extending the consequentiality of “invisible work” in the Food Justice Movement, Cognition and Instruction, 34:3, 210-221, DOI: 10.1080/07370008.2016.1172833.

Minkler, M. (2004). Ethical challenges for the “outside” researcher in community-based participatory research. Health Education & Behavior, 31(6), 684–697. doi:10.1177/1090198104269566

Nyden, P. (2003). Academic incentives for faculty participation in community-based participatory research. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 18(7), 576–585.

Strand, K., Marullo, S., Cutforth, N., Stoecker, R., & Donohue, P. (2003). Community-based research and higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Tisdahl, et al. (2014). Guidelines for peer reviewing community based research. URBAN Publications Committee. Retrieved from www.urbanresearchnetwork.org

Torre, M. E., & Fine, M. (2008). Engaging youth in participatory inquiry for social justice. In M. Pollack (ed.), Everyday anti-racism: Getting real about race in school. New York: New Press.

Wallerstein, N. & Duran, B. 2008. The theoretical, historical, and practice roots of community based participatory research. In Minkler, M. & Wallerstein, N. (Eds.), Community-Based Participatory Research for Health. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 25-46.