Article Teaser: The Challenges and Rewards of Community-Based Research and Scholarly Engagement

How does one do sociology? At the University of North Carolina Wilmington, the Public Sociology program has developed a unique initiative that not only serves the community but trains undergraduate and graduate student sociologists to conduct research in a mentored community environment:

“One of the best ways to connect the classroom to the community is to physically take the classroom to the community. This has been accomplished at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) through the creation of a Community Campus based at a public housing neighborhood. Public sociology involves taking the tools of the discipline of sociology beyond the academy and engaging with various publics on critical social issues. The Public Sociology Program at UNCW began in 2005, [and] one of the key innovations of the program is the research and engagement taking place at the Wilmington Housing Authority-UNCW Community Campus. The program is designed so that undergraduate students participate in a two-semester experience that is based at the Community Campus. The fall semester course is devoted to working with residents to identify critical social issues, designing a research protocol, and writing a literature review. The spring semester course is a six-hour internship course in which students carry out the proposed research…By making efforts to improve social issues confronting low-income residents, the Public Sociology students at the Community Campus [are] building community capacity as the overarching goal of all of its programming and research.”

What questions do you have about the Community Campus initiative? What would a community-based program look like in your discipline?

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