Key Concepts about Community-Engaged Scholarship at MSU

For Faculty, Academic Staff, and Graduate Students,
updated Jan. 2018

MSU's Definition

(Provost's Committee on University Outreach, 1993)

At Michigan State University, community-engaged scholarship is defined as "a form of scholarship that cuts across teaching, research [and creative activities], and service. It involves generating, transmitting, and applying knowledge for the direct benefit of external audiences in ways that are consistent with university and unit missions."

That means, Community-Engaged Scholarship is not

  • Serving on a departmental committee.
  • Serving on a university-wide committee.
  • Serving on a disciplinary committee.
  • Volunteering not related to your discipline or not associated with community partnerships in your academic field.
  • Conducting outside work for pay, with no connection or benefit to your departmental/unit missions.

All scholarship, including community—engaged scholarship:

(Diamond, 2002; Jordan, 2007)

  • Requires high level of disciplinary (or interdisciplinary) expertise.
  • Uses an appropriate methodology.
  • Is appropriately and effectively documented and disseminated to (academic and community) audiences, with reflective critique about significance, processes, and lessons learned.
  • Has significance beyond the individual context (breaks new ground, innovative, can be replicated or elaborated).
  • Is judged to be significant and meritorious (product, process, and/or results) by panel of peers.
  • Demonstrates consistently ethical practice, adhering to codes of conduct in research, teaching, and the discipline.

By community, we mean groups of people who share commonalities, incl. (Fraser, 2005; Ife, 1995; Marsh, 1996, Mattessich & Monsey, 1997)

Affiliation or Interest.
Profession or Practice.

By engagement, we mean the work can be described as (Fitzgerald, Smith, Book, & Rodin, 2005)

Asset Based.
Mutually Beneficial.
Capacity Building.
For the Public Good.

By scholarly, we mean it is based on existing scholarship, best practices, understandings and generative of new understandings and scholarly products for academic and public audiences (Ellison & Eatman, 2008).

Community-Engaged Scholarship Figure (Doberneck et al, 2017)

In Collaboration with Community Partners (including local, indigenous, and/or practitioner knowledge)

Foundational scholarship informs your understanding and guides...

...your engagement experiences with your community partners, which, then...

...generate new scholarship and practice for both...



Common Types of Community-Engaged Scholarship Reported by Faculty

(Doberneck, Glass, & Schweitzer, 2010)—Updated and Revised, August 2015

Common Types of Community-Engaged Scholarship Reported by Faculty
Community-Engaged Scholarship Conducted in Response to Communities or in the Context of Community Partnerships
Community-Engaged Research and Creative Activities Community-Engaged Teaching and Learning Community-Engaged Service and Practice Community-Engaged Commercialized Activities

Engaged research and creative activities are associated with the discovery of new knowledge, the development of new insights, and the creation of new artistic or literary performances and expressions—in collaboration with community partners.

Engaged teaching is organized around sharing knowledge with various audiences through either formal or informal arrangements. Types of engaged teaching vary by relationship among the teacher, the learner, and the learning context. Engaged teaching may be for-credit or not-for-credit, guided by a teacher or self-directed.

Engaged service is associated with the use of university expertise to address specific issues (ad hoc or long—term) identified by individuals, organizations, or communities. This type of engagement is not primarily driven by a research question, though a research question may be of secondary interest in the activity.

Commercialized activities are associated with a variety of projects in which universitygenerated knowledge is translated into practical or commercial applications for the benefit of individuals, organizations, or communities.

Community-Engaged Research

  • Community-based, participatory research
  • Applied research
  • Contractual research (funded by government, non—governmental organizations, or businesses)
  • Demonstration projects
  • Needs and assets assessments
  • Program evaluations

Community-Engaged Creative Activity

  • Collaboratively created, produced, or performed
    1. Film
    2. Theater
    3. Music
    4. Performance
    5. Sculpture
    6. Writing
    7. Spoken word performance
    8. Multi—media
    9. Exhibitions

Formal (For-Credit)

  • Service-learning
  • Community-engaged research as part of university classes
  • Study abroad programs with community engagement components
  • Online and off—campus education

Non-formal (Not-for-Credit)

  • Pre-college programs for youth in K-12
  • Occupational short course, certificate, and licensure programs
  • Conferences, seminars, not-for-credit classes, and workshops
  • Educational enrichment programs for the public and alumni

Informal (Not-for-Credit)

  • Media interviews or "translational" writing for general public audiences
  • Materials to enhance public understanding
  • Self-directed, managed learning environments, such as museums, libraries, gardens
  • Technical assistance
  • Consulting
  • Policy analysis
  • Expert testimony
  • Legal advice
  • Clinical practice
  • Diagnostic services
  • Human and animal patient care
  • Advisory boards and other disciplinary-related service to community organizations
  • Copyrights
  • Patents
  • Licenses for commercial use
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship activities
  • University-managed or supported business ventures, such as business parks or incubators
  • New business ventures and start-ups
  • Inventions
  • Social entrepreneurship


Info Session

Learn about program requirements, the online application process, and examples from past students in the program.

August 28, 2024

  10:00 – 11:30am   ||
  Zoom Meeting

Learn more about the Graduate Certification