National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Honors in Practice, Volume 9 (2013)


Copyright 2013 by the National Collegiate Honors Council



Community-Based Research (CBR) is an important extension and development of existing community service learning (Stoecker). CBR has as its emphasis research questions asked or needed by the community and, therefore, positions students working alongside community members with the purpose of solving a community issue or creating social change. In doing so, it also allows student development of research skills and methods. A hallmark of CBR is collaboration between a community and academicians through all steps in the course design process, including the crafting of the initial research planning stages, implementation of the research, and dissemination of results and knowledge (Israel et al.). CBR is also action-oriented so that the community can use the process and results for positive social change.

CBR is becoming increasingly popular as institutions of higher learning understand that their role is not only to prepare students to enter graduate school or the workplace but also to empower students to become responsible citizens who participate in a larger community (Bringle & Hatcher). The civic engagement of CBR is appealing to institutions for several other important reasons. Undergraduate students have become increasingly goal-oriented as education consumers (Astin et al.). To many students, such real-world learning experiences provide immediate applications for what otherwise would be only abstract theories (Braqbant & Hochman). While such projects, increasingly interdisciplinary, add value to student learning (Davis), opportunities to engage in applied research also directly benefit the communities in which these institutions are situated. Environmental issues, which are both scientific and social in nature, thus lend themselves particularly well to interdisciplinary CBR courses that seek to meld social and natural sciences for both science and non-science majors (Tilbury; Berkes).