CU Engage provides opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students -- from all academic disciplines -- to apply their academic training to partnerships with community groups and social change projects.
CU Engage supports two focal activities: Community-Based Learning and Community-Based Research. These activities are linked through the formation of partnerships with community groups, public agencies, and schools. We use the definition of community engagement provided by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching:
Community Engagement describes the collaboration between higher education institutions and their larger communities (local, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.
Community-Based Learning Pathways for Undergraduate Students
The best entry into community-based learning is to enroll in one of our elective courses. There are many courses that cover a variety of topics. Taking these courses will connect undergraduates with faculty, other students and community partners with similar interests.
These include courses such as:
- LEAD 1000: Becoming a Leader
- EDUC 2919: Renewing Democracy in Communities and Schools
- INVS 3302: Facilitating Peaceful Community Change
- EDUC 2800: Dialogue Across Difference
Undergraduates are also encouraged to apply to any of these focused leadership and civic engagement programs:
- The INVST Community Leadership Program
- Puksta Scholars Program
- The Leadership Studies Minor
- Public Achievement
Undergraduate Participatory Action Research (PAR)
During the 2014-15 academic year, a team of five undergraduates, one doctoral student, and one faculty member explored issues of access, equity, and diversity on the CU-Boulder campus. This research is now informing CU Engage's strategic planning and inclusive practices. Drawing on the principles and practices of participatory action research (PAR), our team a) documented community engagement perspectives and activities among students from under-represented groups; b) identified factors that serve either as barriers or invitations to greater involvement; and c) proposed strategies for CU Engage to implement in its first three years. You can read an article about our participatory research project, or download and read our report: "Students of Color Are Motivated Agents of Change: So Why Aren't We Joining Your Programs?" CU Engage is committed to undertaking other PAR projects with undergraduate students in the future. If you’d like to get involved with PAR and/or propose a project, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Children, Youth and Environments Award
Each year, students, faculty and staff are invited to apply for the Children, Youth and Environments (CYE) Award (up to $4,500), which is given to support a place-based Participatory Action Research (PAR) project focused on young people aged 18 or younger. PAR in this context refers to participatory approaches that work with young people, in partnership, to carry out research and action. It specifically excludes traditional extractive studies that gather information about young people without their direct involvement. Intergenerational projects that bring identifiable benefits to young people are welcome. “Place-based” refers to projects that inquire into the lived physical environments of children and youth, whether these are neighborhoods, parks, schools, transportation and mobility, local businesses, or services. Preference will be given to projects that engage young people growing up in low-income neighborhoods and/or other circumstances of disadvantage.
Community-Based Research for Graduate Students
Each spring semester, CU Engage invites applications for a new cohort of graduate student fellows in Community-Based Research (CBR).
In CBR, university researchers collaborate with people directly impacted by an issue to formulate a research project or creative project that examines an issue of public concern. Guided by values of equity and participation, CBR teams draw on varied forms of expertise and collectively decide on goals and methods with the aim of producing public knowledge that builds capacity for the partner organization and/or contributes to social change.
Please contact the CU Engage Office for more information about these courses and programs as well as other opportunities on campus and in the region.