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About Us

Campus + Community is a center dedicated to supporting ethical and mutually beneficial scholarship and research at UC Santa Cruz. We enhance how the greater campus engages with local and global communities, resulting in transformational experiences for all.


Campus + Community is a hub for coordinating and facilitating partnerships between UC Santa Cruz and community groups. We support action-oriented scholarship and applied research that advances social justice and engages the priorities, assets, and aspirations of local communities.


Campus + Community’s leaders and affiliated members recognize that social justice and social change require a critical approach to community engagement. This approach values the knowledge held in the histories, lived experiences, and expertise of those from marginalized and oppressed communities. In our community engagements, we aim to: create and sustain authentic, equitable, and reciprocal collaboration; jointly produce, curate, and disseminate knowledge and understandings; and share resources in support of engaged scholarship. 


Campus + Community links campus units, better connects campus and community, provides capacity building for campus and community partners, tracks partnership outcomes, and communicates the results.

We are creating a centralized intellectual space to facilitate synergistic processes and outcomes benefitting the campus, community, and academic literatures. C + C is a distinctive hub that supports critical social change focused scholarship across the entire campus, as we strategically and publicly fulfill our mission and vision.

We also aim to shift UCSC institutional policies and practices to better support community engagement and community-engaged scholarship so that more partnerships can develop.

Through working groups, presentations, workshops, and consultations, we are engaged in supporting revisions to tenure and promotion guidelines for engaged scholars and in supporting new approaches to ethical review of community-engaged research.   

What is Critical Community-Engaged Research?

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Critical engaged research involves university faculty, post-doctoral researchers, staff and students collaborating with community organizations or members to co-create knowledge through mutually beneficial activities.

This engaged research is meant to further the needs, goals and aspirations of local communities, and center their voices, ways of knowing, and expertise in every aspect of the project, from inception to dissemination.

When we talk about “critical” engaged research, we refer specifically to projects and activities that help to build power among marginalized or disadvantaged groups and center a social justice lens to the work.

Engaged research can include any kind of scholarly work from traditional modes of community engagement research (e.g., needs assessments and evaluations) to participatory action research, public humanities, public arts, social entrepreneurship, and many other forms.

What is Critical Community-Engaged Teaching and Learning? 

Experiential learning, or service learning, has long been used to engage students in community-based work augmented by course-based learning. It has been criticized in some instances as promoting a charity or savior model. Campus + Community instead supports critical community-engaged teaching and learning.

A critical approach helps students to develop a critical consciousness, combining community action with reflections about the structural causes of the social problems addressed in their service placements. Critical service learning has an explicit focus on social justice issues and centers community needs. 

Campus + Community supports students’ critical experiential research opportunities through a model called Community Initiated Student Engaged Research (CISER). Initiated in Sociology but now expanded across different departments, CISER uses UCSC courses to train students in research methods that they then use to support research projects which are co-developed with community organizations to respond to a community need.

For more about CISER, see the article written by faculty members Steve McKay, Miriam Greenberg and Rebecca London entitled, “Community-Initiated Student-Engaged Research: Expanding Undergraduate Teaching and Learning through Public Sociology” published in Teaching Sociology

Additional Reading

Resources for Teaching and Learning
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Last modified: May 22, 2024