The term scholarship refers generally to the work faculty, staff and students (“scholars”) undertake on behalf of the university’s academic mission. In this sense, scholarship includes diverse activities related to discovery or knowledge creation, integration or synthesis, teaching and learning, and application.  

At a public flagship and comprehensive research university like CU Boulder, scholarly work is an essential way we achieve our charge to directly benefit the residents and communities of our state and nation.  

Scholarship is public when it connects academic work with non-academic audiences, disseminates findings in ways that are accessible to non-specialists and contributes directly to public conversations and informs matters of public policy.  Such research, teaching and learning, or creative work is community-engaged when it actively involves individuals and communities beyond the university in the production, interpretation or application of knowledge. 

The terms public scholarship and community-engaged scholarship are commonplace in different disciplinary traditions—“public” often being the preferred modifier in the humanities and the arts, “community-engaged” being common in some professional fields and in the social and applied sciences.  

The Office for Public and Community-Engaged Scholarship uses both terms to explicitly include a broad range of scholarly engagement activities that take place across disciplines, fields and academic roles (faculty, staff, and students). This range is represented as a continuum in the graphic below.