Irena Gorski, Eric Obeysekare, Careen Yarnal, and Khanjan Mehta
As we scale up engagement with communities around the world, how do we ensure that the foundational engagement principles of responsiveness, respect, and accessibility are never compromised? While community engagement is important and can have a dramatic positive impact, it can also result in unintended negative consequences for all stakeholders, including community members, students, faculty, and staff. At Penn State, we are developing a framework for an Engagement Review Board (ERB) to proactively educate university members about the principles and best practices of engagement, and to work with them to ensure that collaborative projects benefit all stakeholders in spirit and substance. This article summarizes the larger challenge of equitable community engagement and makes the case that there is a need for additional protection such as through an ERB. The various resources and functions that can be provided by an ERB across the life cycle of engagement projects are described. The objective is to stimulate discussion on how we can collectively develop an infrastructure—undergirded by a “culture of concern” rather than a “culture of compliance”—to strengthen and mainstream community engagement without making it more onerous to all stakeholders.
Introduction: Setting the Context
In an attempt to help an orphanage in Zimbabwe—but without collaborating with the orphanage about community assets and needs—a college-level dental hygiene class with an embedded travel component organized an engagement project to collect and send toothbrushes to the orphanage. The well-meaning class gathered toothbrushes from donors in the US and traveled to the orphanage to teach lessons on dental hygiene. While the intention was to improve the dental health of the children and staff at the orphanage, the outcome had unexpected impact on the class, the instructor, and the community. The orphanage did not, in fact, need the thousands of toothbrushes they received. In reality, they needed food, money for rent and staff salaries, and mattresses—needs that the instructor and class members were unaware of. The orphanage did, however, use the toothbrushes as a form of currency to pay staff and to barter for supplies. As for the lesson the class taught on dental hygiene, class-members were surprised when orphanage staff were offended by how little the well-meaning students knew about existing dental hygiene practices and more important community needs. A community engagement expert would have quickly recognized the likelihood of these unexpected outcomes and might have advised the class instructor and the class about how to maximize the positive impact of their work. So where can an instructor, and other educators, turn for advice to ensure that community engagement work does no harm and has positive impact?
Universities across the United States and Canada are prioritizing community engagement. Engagement is the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local or global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 2015). The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification is a classification that recognizes “excellent alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, resources, and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy engagement”. Seventy-six colleges and universities held the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification as of 2006, with 361 institutions now holding the classification in 2015. The movement to prioritize engagement is driven as much by the evolving meaning of a land-grant institution (Weerts, 2005) as it is by community and student demands and expectations (Kirkwood, 2001).
There is a growing consciousness as well as boundless enthusiasm among university students to make a positive difference in the lives of people in developing communities (Bringle & Hatcher, 1998; Moely, McFarland, Miron, Mercer, & Ilustre, 2002). Faculty members are being challenged by this trend to enable students to play a larger role in becoming change agents. While all engagement efforts and experiences are important and can have a dramatic positive impact, they can also result in unintended consequences for students, professors, institutions, intermediaries, and communities (Crabtree, 2013). Students can, for example, become disillusioned by the places they visit, gaining the skewed perspective that all developing countries and their citizens lack resources and “need to be helped” (Hinton, Ortbal, & Mehta, 2014). Professors can reduce the likelihood of tenure by devoting a significant amount of time to organizing and facilitating engagement experiences (Saltmarsh, Wooding, & McLellan, 2014). For the community, students can return home without completing projects, leaving community members with a net liability. Other negative outcomes for communities may include a disruption of community relations, conflict, disappointment, or dissatisfaction with where they live (Crabtree, 2013).
Good intentions and passion are not enough for successful community engagement (Easterly & Easterly, 2006). While community projects are usually well-meaning, creatively designed, and enthusiastically deployed, they do not necessarily result in a sustainable impact on the partnering communities (Mehta & Mehta, 2011). Projects fail, or do not realize their full potential, when local knowledge, perspectives, and frameworks are not integrated into the venture (Lissenden, Maley, & Mehta, 2015; Mehta, Alter, Semali, & Maretzki, 2013). Whether naïve or deliberate, the lack of consideration for the cultural and socioeconomic context inhibits innovation that is crucial for project success. The majority of the challenges confronted during community engagement projects can be attributed to cultural, social, economic, and ethical issues (Mehta & Mehta, 2011). Key challenges include designing, implementing, and evaluating appropriate systems (as opposed to individual products or interventions); ensuring equity from, and between, all stakeholders; growing projects to reach more communities; engaging marginalized stakeholders in the project; understanding and managing power dynamics and privilege systems; and identifying and incentivizing champions (Mehta & Mehta, 2011). To successfully navigate through such challenges, university members involved in engagement programs need to understand the resources, challenges, social and behavioral norms, and innovation frameworks of the context in which they will be working. How can we ensure that good intentions and passion result in socioeconomic development? How can we ensure that engagement programs balance immediate student experiences with positive long-term impact on the partnering communities?
Across the world, Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) review proposed university research projects to ensure that they uphold the ethical principles of research involving human subjects: respect for persons, beneficence, and justice (National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, 1979). IRBs are crucial for protecting all stakeholders engaged in research, including the subjects themselves, the researchers, and intermediaries like translators and analysts. However, IRB protection lacks comprehensiveness and applicability for some projects and has a variety of interpretations from the university to federal level (Schrag, 2010). Due to non-comprehensive IRB policies in the US and potentially blurry lines of morality and legality, a recent article in Nature argues for the utility of ethics consulting services to provide additional advice, enabling researchers to reflect on their projects without the pressure of potential rejection that comes with an IRB (Dolgin, 2014). Such services can help researchers make ethically-sound decisions in situations where the IRB may not be supportive, comprehensive, or appropriate enough.
Expanding research and teaching outside of the university to engage with stakeholders in developing communities can lead to issues even further outside the scope of traditional IRB protection. For example, in developing countries where oral traditions are common, signing a consent form can make participants uneasy because they usually reserve signatures (or thumb impressions) for legal documents such as deeds (Anderson, et al., 2012; Bell, Dzombak, Sulewski, & Mehta, 2012; Harding, Harper, Stone, O’Neill, & Berger, 2011). Additionally, while IRBs operate under the assumption that researchers are more knowledgeable about their subjects’ conditions than the subjects themselves are, in the realm of community engagement, this is not necessarily true, and the principles of engagement are sometimes compromised.
As institutions scale up engagement with communities, how do we ensure that the principles of engagement are upheld? At Penn State University, we are developing the framework of an Engagement Review Board (ERB) to ensure that community-engagement projects are conducted appropriately. The objective is to pro-actively educate faculty and students about the core principles and processes of engagement and to work with them to create situations favorable for all stakeholders. The role of the ERB was developed based on the ideas of the authors as well as ideas from collaborative discussions during a workshop at the 2014 Conference of the Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC). The workshop included faculty and staff members from universities across the US and several other countries. After discussing the principles of engagement and the stakeholders, this article proposes the competencies needed for appropriate engagement, presents the conceptual framework of the proposed ERB, and explains challenges and opportunities for integrating engagement into the current university system. While the semantics of engagement differ across cultures, disciplines, communities, and universities, this article aims to address the core issues of the ethics and impact of engagement. The objectives of this article are to (1) make the case that there should be additional protection for community members involved in engagement such as through an Engagement Review Board and (2) encourage further discussion on how we can collectively develop the infrastructure—a “culture of concern” rather than a “culture of compliance”—without making community engagement more onerous for any of the stakeholders.
Principles of Engagement
In 1999, the Kellogg Commission, made up of 24 university presidents and chancellors, published a report, Returning to Our Roots: The Engaged Institution, explaining the need for land-grant and public universities to realize their mission to better society while simultaneously responding to the effects of globalization—i.e. the need for engaged institutions. The report identified seven characteristics of engaged institutions: responsiveness, respect for partners, academic neutrality, accessibility, integration, coordination, and resource partnerships (Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities, 1999). This article is particularly concerned with three of these characteristics, defined here as the principles of engagement:
1. Responsiveness—Universities must be in constant communication with the communities where engagement is conducted and ensure there is a mutual understanding of engagement activities.
2. Respect for partners—Universities should respect the resources communities have to offer and not view engagement solely as an opportunity to show intellectual superiority.
3. Accessibility—All communities should be able to receive knowledge and resources so communities should be made aware of what universities have to offer through public awareness efforts.
Universities upholding the principles of responsiveness, respect for partners, and accessibility are recognized with the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 2015). Further, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium offer the prestigious Magrath Award, given to engaged programs that exemplify responsiveness, respect for partners, and accessibility (APLU, 2013). Truly engaged institutions that uphold these three principles in their programs find ways to ensure that scholars are engaged in a way that does no harm. By doing so, they uphold a high standard of appropriate engagement and contribute to the socioeconomic development of communities around the world. Presently, many engaged universities have IRBs, Service Learning Offices, Study Abroad Offices, Community Engagement Offices, and/or other similar entities to advise scholars on best practices for engagement.
Balancing Stakeholder Motivations in University-Community Engagement
The stakeholders that participate in engagement often have differing motivations (Figure 1). Faculty may place high importance on research and define success in terms of publication of knowledge gained during engagement. Students may have a less research-focused definition of success and consider any hands-on experience to be of value. Finally, success to communities may revolve around successful projects and the acquisition of actionable knowledge from universities. While programs that incorporate one or two of these stakeholder groups’ interests are important and worthwhile, the best engagement programs consider all motivations (Ramaley, 2001). An ideal community engagement project might include (1) a discussion between all stakeholders about their motivations in the project; (2) a clear definition of roles, goals, and outcomes for the project; (3) delivery of a project that meets the goals and outcomes; (4) reflection on the results; and (5) dissemination of results to all stakeholders as well as the broader engagement community.
Faculty members are cautioned against “hit and run research” where researchers work in a community and gain knowledge but neither share it with nor use it to serve community members. Lack of researcher follow-up can damage relationships with partners who become disillusioned with participation in studies that they never benefit from (Ramaley, 2001). Engagement can be more mutually beneficial if there is a plan of continuity in place that is developed jointly with the community while also communicating transparently with all parties the longer-term intentions of the project (McNall, Reed, Brown, & Allen, 2009). Not all engagement can be a long-term effort, but universities and communities can be more upfront about their expectations for the project.
Projects with multiple stakeholders are often a difficult balancing act. Engaging with communities is often more successful and mutually beneficial when everybody involved is aware of the various motivations involved in their project. ERBs, with their experience working in engagement, could play a pivotal leadership role in providing context-appropriate guidance and situation-specific scaffolding to ensure that the motivations of all stakeholders are understood and taken into account throughout the lifecycle of the project.
Preparation for Engagement: Competencies to Avoid and Deal with Failure
Community engagement initiatives fail due to a wide breadth of reasons including expectations and motivations, position and power, tension and disagreement, and ownership and agency (Hinton, Ortbal, & Mehta, 2014). Three categories of competencies emerged from the ESC 2014 conference workshop: foundational, program-specific, and engagement (Figure 2). Successfully cultivating these competencies will in turn foster the culture of concern that is needed to ensure the long-term success and growth of engagement programs.
Students and faculty can always improve upon foundational and engagement competencies, which are therefore represented on a continuum in Figure 2. Foundational competencies, such as interest and commitment, professionalism, personal awareness, interpersonal skills, leadership, critical thinking and questioning, openness to feedback, and adaptability develop during a student’s college career through curricular, co-curricular, and life experiences. Program-specific competencies, including cultural awareness, subject matter expertise, and contextual knowledge are important for students to gain prior to each individual engagement experience and are often transferred from the faculty leader to participants. Engagement competencies primarily deal with preparing for, avoiding, and moving past failure. In order to successfully complete projects and navigate failure, it is important to build skills in conflict resolution, trust-based relationship building, equitable collaboration, proactive scenario planning, ethical reflection, and empathy (Hinton, Ortbal, & Mehta, 2014). The experienced engagement practitioners at the ESC 2014 conference workshop validate that these competencies help students and faculty avoid common failure modes and enable a successful engaged scholarship program. How can we ensure that students and faculty members who are engaging with communities have these competencies?
Conceptual Framework of the ERB
Community engagement endeavors can be supported and elevated through an Engagement Review Board, a university entity whose primary goal is to ensure that engagement efforts do not violate the fundamental canon of engagement: Do No Harm. Engagement programs would benefit from increased intellectual and logistical support, accountability mechanisms, and most importantly, the credibility and legitimacy that would emerge from an independent body supporting, validating, and certifying engagement activities. This section describes some of the roles that an ERB could play and types of resources the board could offer to strengthen and mainstream engagement and engaged scholarship.
ERBs are currently envisioned as independent entities that include various stakeholders who are highly experienced with engagement to review protocols and make informed judgments on the ethics of proposed projects in order to bring best practices learned through years of experience into the decision-making process. Unlike IRBs, which often consist only of members with extensive knowledge of medical and psychological studies (Schrag, 2010), ERBs could also provide a wider perspective by including faculty from all disciplines at universities where engagement takes place. Furthermore, community members, who have a large stake in engagement, should be included in the process to uphold communities’ perspectives and interests. Finally, students could provide valuable insights to ensure that student interests and abilities are weighed into engagement programs.
The proposed ERB would conduct many of the same activities as IRBs with the goal of ensuring that institutions uphold the principles of engagement and prepare students with the competencies necessary for successful engagement. The ERB’s responsibilities would span concerns throughout the lifecycle of community engagement initiatives and balance the needs of all stakeholders without privileging any of them. Figure 3 shows a timeline of the proposed roles and responsibilities.
1a. Online Training Modules—The first step in the process toward ensuring that university members engage in a mutually beneficial way with communities is to educate and sensitize individuals prior to getting involved. The ERB is envisioned to have online modules packaged as a training regimen for certification similar to those offered by the Office of Research Protection (or equivalent) at many universities. Since foundational and program-specific competencies cannot be covered through the same modules for every student, ERB training modules could focus on educating students on engagement competencies to prepare them for the problems they could face when working with communities. Delivering the modules online would allow them to be completed effectively and efficiently. An engaged institution could integrate the modules into introductory courses at the university so that students begin thinking about engagement issues early on in their college career. Separate modules could be created to prepare faculty and staff, educating them not only on the same engagement competencies as students but also on how they would interact with the ERB at various points in their engagement journey.
1b. Program Design Assistance—Some professors may need assistance with designing specific programs; the ERB could have staff to help. For example, a faculty member eager to start a new program but with no experience working in the field, or working across cultures, could get just-in-time support from the ERB team. The ERB could connect the professor to other practice-oriented faculty members and extension staff to collaborate with and provide contacts in the country of interest to develop stronger collaborative programs.
1c. Proposal Review and Approval—A protocol may be developed by the ERB to collect information about professors’ plans to engage with communities. The protocol would ask questions similar to IRB protocols in order to encourage professors to think through every aspect of their engagement process and the products they will create. In addition, it would ask questions geared toward community members. The ERB should provide a timely review process for engagement proposals. If a proposal is rejected, a member of the ERB would provide a detailed explanation to the faculty member about why the proposal did not make a clear case for a responsive, respectful, and accessible engagement program. Additionally, they would offer suggestions for improving the engaged program so there would be favorable outcomes for all stakeholders, allowing the professor to resubmit the proposal with revisions. Depending on the level of concern that the ERB reviewers have with the proposal, they may require the professor to go through additional training or recommend another university member work with him or her to improve the program through added expertise on the program area or the partnering community.
2. Problem Support—Inevitably, problems will arise when university groups engage with communities. Being flexible and learning from failures will result in positive changes that allow programs to continue and improve. For those less experienced or anybody who faces difficult challenges while engaging with a community, the ERB could provide support and advice on how to advance appropriately. For example, consider a professor who brings his students to Mozambique to build a rainwater harvester for a school. If the professor has completed the online learning modules and has assistance from the ERB, he would know to organize a public meeting through the local leaders to engender community support. If upon the start of construction, the professor finds resistance from community members and is unsure how to handle this particular situation, he could then reach out to the ERB problem support team. The support team could advise as to how he could gain backing from local people such as by discussing with them if starting construction later in the morning would help ease noise issues; whether they think the project is going the way they want; or which community members, businesses, or social groups should be brought into the project.
3. Reflection and Evaluation—As with any project, reflection and evaluation is an important part of engagement: it verifies and validates that efforts are fulfilling the agreed upon goals. Reflection and evaluation may be conducted through internal audits, monthly meetings, periodic activity reports, or assessments conducted by external consultants. No matter what the process is, it is critical that all reflection and evaluation activities solicit and integrate insights from all the stakeholders. Such a process ensures transparency, builds trust, and encourages all stakeholders to stay aware and intercede in a timely manner if they see that something is wrong or want something to happen differently (Bringle & Hatcher, 2002; CTSA, 2011; Hart & Northmore, 2011). Reflection and evaluation is an ongoing process, starting in the planning stages of a project and continuing well beyond project completion.
4. Quality Assurance and Improvement—As ERBs are implemented, problems are likely to emerge. Support within the ERB to refine policies as problems arise can help the ERB evolve and improve. There should also be a method for individuals outside the ERB to submit feedback to strengthen and streamline operations.
5. Operations—Support within the ERB for all of its operations—such as hotlines, a website, learning tools, and other resources as they emerge—would allow the ERB to run smoothly, easily moving past obstacles so it is always able to provide support, validation, and certification for engagement programs. Operations would require staff to provide feedback to people in the field in need of problem support and staff to maintain a website and online learning tools. The hotline would need to be accessible many hours of the day to be most effective considering that the staff would be working across time zones with faculty and students engaging around the world. The website and online learning tools would need regular maintenance and updates.
6. Pro-Active Community Partnerships—ERBs could conduct activities in the community to foster understanding of and commitment to the university-community partnership and projects completed in cooperation with the university. An important aspect would be identifying communities, building multi-stranded partnerships, and sensitizing them about equitable
engagement opportunities and processes.
7. Fostering a Culture of Concern—As engagement is scaled up at universities, it is important that motivation to participate in the ERB review process stems from a concern for engaging appropriately, not simply complying with a set of arbitrary rules. Fostering a culture of concern would involve activities for education, recognition, and research. To educate everybody involved in engagement programs, the ERB could host workshops, guest lectures, and community-based educational forums and roundtables where ERB members share compelling examples that highlight the issue of potentially doing harm. Additionally, messaging on the importance of using the ERB to ensure no harm is done could be shared through the initial online training, where the importance of upholding the principles of engagement is stressed to make sure that those completing the training understand that they should be concerned about engaging appropriately. To provide recognition for stakeholders, there should be awards and newsletters celebrating exemplary projects, faculty, staff, students, and community partners. Finally, to spread the message further, as part of reflection and evaluation, the ERB should include in their periodic reports reasons for concern and how programs were helped by ERB. Through such reports, the ERB should identify common problems, study solutions, and disseminate them.
Integrating an ERB into the Current System
The success of creating ERBs at universities will rely on how well they can be integrated into the existing systems. Instead of simply hoping that faculty and students will suddenly become engaged when an ERB is created, successful implementation will include building a culture of concern, piloting the ERB with an appropriate model for the institution, and providing incentives to get involved.
Building a Culture of Concern
The current IRB structure is seen by some as creating a culture of compliance around the ethics of research (Schrag, 2010). It is essential that with the ERB, the pressure of compliance does not overshadow the importance of ensuring no harm is done. A barrier to creating an ERB is an increase in paperwork and staff members—but the opportunity to increase the university’s positive impact on the world is worth it. To increase support for the creation of an ERB, additional paperwork should be minimized, potentially through combining it with IRB paperwork, and the number of employees added to the university should also be minimized. Additionally, it is vital for universities to implement the ERB in phases, making sure members of the university understand the importance of upholding the principles of engagement and are therefore motivated to participate in measures to uphold them. The goal is that the ERB will be valued as worthwhile because all stakeholders understand how crucial it is that universities do no harm when engaging with communities and faculty see the direct positive impact on their programs when working with the ERB.
Piloting the ERB
Piloting the ERB would entail working with a small group of faculty members who agree to develop, test, and refine the various resources, protocols, and review processes. This would provide valuable data about how an ERB might work in practice. As the review of existing programs is completed, engagement experts could begin working with faculty members across many colleges and departments to create additional engagement programs. The ERB could be built up slowly, both in regard to the number of individuals involved and its responsibilities. This will foster a culture of concern organically with more members of the university jumping on board with the mission of the ERB as they participate in workshops, submit proposals, and share their successes with others.
Proposed Models of Integration
As mentioned earlier, many engaged institutions have existing offices that advise scholars on the principles of responsiveness, respect, and accessibility and take on some of the proposed roles of the ERB. It is important that the ERB blends well with existing entities; therefore, the way in which an ERB is implemented at each institution would depend upon what structures have already been established to ensure no harm is done. Two points for consideration when implementing an ERB are extending the IRB and having the ERB act as an overseer and connector.
1. Extension of IRB—Since the IRB already approves international research studies and any research that is to be conducted through engagement, it would be appropriate for the ERB to work closely with an institution’s IRB. As mentioned earlier, IRBs can lack comprehensiveness and applicability for engagement projects, but adding an ERB unit would fill in the gaps to ensure engagement programs uphold the principles of engagement. The marriage of the two boards could potentially minimize paperwork, with only one protocol submitted to the joint board and a section to be passed on to the ERB for engagement-specific items.
2. ERB as an Overseer and Connector—Many engaged institutions currently have an office or multiple offices for service learning, community engagement, and study abroad that already hold some of the responsibilities of the proposed ERB. The ERB is not meant to close the existing offices and take over all responsibilities. Rather, it is important that each institution assesses which responsibilities are currently taken care of by existing entities and allow the ERB to fill the gaps, assuming responsibilities that are not yet taken care of by existing offices. Additionally, the ERB can provide a conduit for improved communication between existing offices where silos may currently exist. The ERB would oversee all engagement-related activities and assume the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the university does no harm.
While faculty and students are undoubtedly committed to developing engagement programs that will have impact, and may find them personally rewarding, incentives like certificates of completion and public recognition through newsletters and awards might help in gaining broader long-term participation. Integrity, credibility and validity, arguably the most fundamental values for academics, present the best leverage points to integrate ERBs into universities. ERBs can provide an independent “gold star” (rather than a “seal of approval”) to engagement programs, and in doing so, validate, celebrate, and mainstream them. In essence, ERBs can serve as a mechanism to bring more legitimacy, attention, and cohesion to engagement programs while acknowledging and supporting the faculty members who champion them.
Let the Conversations Continue!
The objective of this manuscript is to encourage discussion about how we can collectively develop an infrastructure, framed by a culture of concern, to further strengthen and mainstream community engagement. So what might an ideal community engagement project look like? It may include a discussion among all stakeholders about motivations; a clear definition of roles, goals, and outcomes; delivery of a project that meets the goals and outcomes; reflection by all stakeholders; and dissemination of results to stakeholders and the broader engagement community. Are these conversations happening in your projects, within your departments, colleges, and campuses? We believe that the time is ripe for pro-active conversations about responsiveness, respect for partners, and accessibility within our academic, administrative, and support programs and it is a moral and ethical imperative for institutions to conduct them.
We recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to ensure that every engagement project at every institution will be conducted responsibly and that results will be optimal impact for all stakeholders. Each project, and each institution, should conduct its own dialogues in the search for approaches that are appropriate for their unique culture and context. At some institutions, there may be a perceived need for an ERB structure, or the ERB functions might be integrated into the existing administrative infrastructure, or all the actors might find it most appropriate to address these concerns without any formal processes and structures. Nonetheless, having these conversations will help stakeholders understand the challenges and opportunities that engagement projects present, and most importantly, build a thriving institution-wide culture of concern that celebrates and commends responsiveness, respect for partners, and accessibility.
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The authors would like to thank Sharon Welch, Nicola McCarthy, Louanne Keenan, Annie Epperson, Sarah Ritter, and Rebecca Landis for their comments and suggestions on this manuscript. We would also like to thank Vivienne Bennett, Kathay Rennels, Patrick Nehring, Molly Engle, Huda Ahmed, Bernadette Johnson, Terri Bucci, Anastasia Lim, Tessa Landale, Ola Ahlqvist, and Paul Matthews for contributing to the idea at the Engagement Scholarship Consortium 2014 Conference.
About the Authors
Irena Gorski is the Engaged Scholarship Ecosystem manager at The Pennsylvania State University. Eric Obeysekare is a doctoral student in the College of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State. Careen Yarnal is an associate professor in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management at Penn State. Khanjan Mehta is an assistant professor of Engineering Design and director of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program at Penn State.