Institutionalizing Community-Based Research

A Case Study of Articulated Program Development


  • Leslie Abell California State University, Channel Islands
  • Dennis Downey California State University, Channel Islands
  • Pilar Pacheco California State University, Channel Islands



service learning, undergraduate research, high impact practices, higher education implementation


Community-Based Research (CBR) presents a wide range of benefits in higher education to students, community partners, and universities. Yet on our campus (and many others), CBR remains less common than other high-impact practices (HIPs) such as service learning and undergraduate research due to lack of effective institutionalization. Moreover, when CBR projects are undertaken, they result in a level of engagement with CBR that produces fewer of the expected benefits than is ideal. Here we detail our efforts to institutionalize CBR on our campus to appropriately expand the practice and its resulting benefits. These efforts focus on three initiatives: raising the visibility of CBR, diffusing expertise to implement CBR, and providing critical support for designing and implementing CBR. We also include our assessment plan which had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This plan utilizes a mixed-methods approach and will explore how our initiatives have made an impact on faculty and community partners involved with CBR, as well as assess interest and knowledge about CBR among faculty and community partners who are currently involved in service learning but not yet involved in CBR. We present our efforts as a model for other universities seeking to increase implementation of CBR.


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