Community-Based Research (CBR)

Community-based research is research that involves faculty members, students, and community partners in projects that address a community-identified need.

With support from the Jesse Ball duPont Fund and the United Way of Central Virginia, the CCDSJ was able in 2003 to begin creating CBR partnerships between college faculty and students and local non-profits.

CBR projects are different from conventional research:

  • CBR is initiated by community partners who remain actively engaged throughout the project
  • CBR is conducted with and for - not on - members of a community
  • CBR engages students in the community
  • CBR promotes long-term relationships with community partners

Why do CBR?

Benefits for LC:

  • CBR is a highly effective mode of teaching and learning
  • Students learn how to listen to others, think about problems and issues, arrive at solutions mutually, and work together to implement the solutions
  • CBR provides a greater understanding of social problems, and integrates academics and service

Benefits for community partners:

  • Partners receive training that they can use in the future
  • CBR studies can be used for program improvement, grant writing, community education, and public policy advocacy
  • Partners can make more strategic decisions about their operations and the programs they offer

Roles and Responsibilities

CBR projects are very different than conventional research. In CBR, the relationship formed between the community and college partners is multi-faceted, collaborative, and sometimes long-term.

Community Partners

  • Generate the basic idea for the research.
  • Desire to participate directly in the research process.
  • Provide resources in time, energy, access to the population, and previous studies.
  • Develop specific plans to use research study results for program improvement, generating funds, community education, etc.
  • Agree to share research results with funders, focus groups or learning events at LC, in CCDSJ materials, and in the community at large.

Faculty & Students

  • Desire to be research partners with and to learn from the community partner.
  • Build the project around what the community partner identifies as its need.
  • Provide expertise, explain the research process, and share responsibility for research design, data collection, and application.
  • Work with the College's Internal Review Board (IRB) to receive approval when necessary.
  • Prepare final report (with executive summary) and present it to community partners.
  • Share research results with funders, the community at large, and as cited in CCDSJ materials.

Center for Community Development and Social Justice (CCDSJ)

  • Conduct interviews and facilitate the "match" between partners.
  • Make roles and responsibilities and CBR principles clear to partners.
  • Approve and oversee project budgets.
  • Report results to external funders.

7 Project Steps for Faculty

  1. Contact Dean Kim McCabe with your project idea
  2. Meet with the community partner and CCDSJ
  3. Design the research process
  4. Fill out the CBR Project Development and Overview Form 
  5. Work with partner to collect and analyze data
  6. Write study result
  7. Present the study results