The Scholarship of Engagement

NERCHE’s focus on the scholarship of engagement addresses higher educations’ responsibility to the public realm through faculty work that is relational, localized, and contextual, and favors mutual deference between laypersons and academics.  As higher education reinvents itself in the face of new economic and social challenges, NERCHE recognizes that these challenges also present remarkable opportunities for innovation, experimentation, and a renewed civic purpose that fosters a more socially responsive stance within and outside the academy.  Through its active collaboration with scholars and practitioners, NERCHE is committed to the development and implementation of civic engagement initiatives aimed at the next generation of students, faculty, and scholars in higher education.


Current Projects:


Past Projects:

Campus Community Partnerships
The New England Resource Center for Higher Education and the Worcester UniverCity Partnership are hosting a series of events focusing on the role of colleges and universities in economic development. Through the use of nationally recognized speakers and engaged local practitioners, the programs are intended to stimulate dialogue around the efforts of institutions of higher education and their public and private partners as they seek to revitalize their local communities. Click here to learn more.


Reversing the Telescope:  Community Development from Within
Community outreach has become a recognized and entrenched part of the agenda for higher education.  Thus far, the concept of community development has only been applied to reaching out to the community beyond the campus.  Colleges and communities can do a lot of good looking outside their campuses; however, they need look no farther than into their own campuses for members of the external community - many of whom are employed in the lower paid service jobs.  They clean our classrooms, prepare and serve food in our cafeterias, manicure our grounds, and process our paperwork.  With a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, NERCHE will chart the domain of the "civic microcosm" within the university.  Project activities include holding conversations of key stakeholders with the capacity to leverage and redirect resources to support institutions of higher education in addressing the community within their institutions, developing written materials and identifying concrete programmatic examples, and developing strategic partnerships with influential groups and allies who can mobilize institutions to develop innovative programs that are responsive to local needs.


Evaluation of the Institutionalization of Learn and Serve America Programs
The Corporation for National Service (CNS) has contracted with NERCHE, Westat, and the Center for Youth and Communities at Brandeis University, to conduct an evaluation of the impact of Learn and Serve America grants on the institutionalization of service-learning in schools, community-based organizations, and higher education institutions.  The goal of the evaluation is to assess the role of Learn and Serve grants in establishing and expanding service-learning in those institutions and in promoting the long-term sustainability of service-learning opportunities for young people.  The evaluation process was carried out over 2001-Fall 2002.

Project Engage

Project Engage  evolved from NERCHE's Program on Faculty Professional Service and Academic Outreach and sought to enhance all three academic missions - research, teaching  and service - by bolstering faculty/student collaborations.  NERCHE  announced the ten winners of grants of $3000 - $5000 to support action research projects carried out by teams of student, faculty, and community members. Click here to see past winners.


Civic Engagement Cluster Project
The Project which concluded in July, 2001 worked with a group of ten institutions nationwide that were undertaking significant transformation to strengthen civic learning.  Click here for more information on the project and the Cluster institutions.


Project Colleague: A Program for Faculty
As part of the Program on Faculty Professional Service and Academic Outreach,  Project Colleague, aimed to correct some of the obstacles to effective service and outreach.  Find out more about "Swinging Doors: Making Community-College Partnerships Work" - a workshop for  community based organizations.


Democracy and Higher Education:  The Future of Engagement
NERCHE and the Kettering Foundation sponsored two forums to encourage discussion about the challenges to and opportunities for promoting community engagement and democratic citizenship as key institutional priorities for American colleges and universities.  The first component of this project was an Invitational Colloquium involving a representative and diverse group of 33 academic and community leaders. The group met at the Kettering Foundation in Dayton, Ohio, on February 26-27, 2008, to identify problems and issues associated with reforming higher education for community engagement and democratic citizenship and to suggest ways for cultivating the next generation of engaged scholars in American higher education.

Recognizing that countless individuals have played leadership roles, both nationally and on their campuses, over the past two decades, NERCHE established a web blog for this wider audience.  This blog comprised the project’s second component, which was an expanded version of a Virtual Forum established in late January 2008. Read more...


CSU-AAUP Faculty Workload Study
In late 2010, NERCHE concluded an independent, comprehensive study of faculty and professional employee workloads within the Connecticut State University system. The research team was led by Dr. Jay Dee, Associate Professor in the Higher Education Doctoral Program at UMass Boston, and included Dr. Glenn Gabbard, Associate Director, and Sharon Singleton, Senior Program and Research Associate, from NERCHE and Nancy M. Ludwig, Director of Institutional Research at Northeastern University.

Commissioned by the CSU-AAUP, this 16-month workload study examined full-time and part-time CSU faculty workloads; workloads across academic departments and between graduate and undergraduate programs of study; policies and practices associated with teaching-load adjustments; the relationship between faculty workloads (including opportunities for professional development) and practices that support student learning and retention; effects of workload on recruitment, retention, and career satisfaction of faculty; and workload issues for other academic professionals, including librarians, coaches, and counselors. In addition, NERCHE conducted an analysis of the relationship between faculty workload and student outcomes reported in state accountability reports, as well as a longitudinal analysis of trends in faculty workload.


Civic Seminar
The Civic Seminar was one of a series of 27 seminars held throughout the nation and supported by the project on Bringing Theory to Practice and the Charles Engelhard Foundation. This particular seminar was hosted by the Next Generation Engagement Project, a collaboration between the American Association of State College and Universities (AASCU), Imagining America and NERCHE. The seminar was be hosted by the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, on April 13, 2011.  In preparation for the seminar, participants read John Saltmarsh, Susan Sturm, and Timothy Eatman's "Full Participation: Systemic Integration of Civic Engagement, Diversity, and the Postsecondary Success of Underserved Students" Civic Seminar Catalyst Paper and Nancy Canton's, "Why Diversity Still Needs a Champion". Further details available here.