Engaged Scholars Program

We work to advance teaching, research, and scholarship; and support efforts to extend the expertise and skill of faculty, students, and community practitioners to benefit local and global communities.

About the Engaged Scholars Program

The Engaged Scholars Program supports students and faculty who seek a purposeful integration of teaching, research, and practice in order to advance scholarship and produce a public benefit. Grounded in the concentrations, the program builds on Brown’s distinctive interdisciplinary culture by providing coherent curricular and advising structures that encourage students to place research, internships, and community-based work at the heart of their academic lives. Students apply to the program as they are declaring their concentrations.  Program requirements include:

  • Successful completion of a number of engaged courses within the student’s concentration
  • Engagement in significant experiential work with community and other non-academic stakeholders;
  • Participation in related programming with a cohort of student engaged scholars; and 
  • Completion of a culminating thesis or capstone demonstrating the relevance of student’s academic work to external audiences.

Students who complete the program will have mastered the concepts and skills required to synthesize and transfer their learning across complex situations within and beyond the Brown campus. The Engaged Scholars Program will also help connect faculty and community members to create enduring research collaborations.

The Engaged Scholars Program will pilot in 2014-15 in four departments: Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Engineering, and Theater Arts & Performance Studies. 

Erik Ehn, Department Chair of Theater Arts and Performance Studies and Engaged Scholars Program faculty, discusses his work with the Swearer Center.

Current Engaged Scholar Courses

Engaged Climate Policy at the UN Climate Change Talks

Twelve undergraduate students in J Timmons Robert’s Environmental Studies course examine core readings on climate change, conduct independent and group projects, and attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima, Peru in December. Students critically analyze contemporary political events; develop and addresses pertinent research questions; engage and interview with experts in the field; craft policy-relevant and empirically grounded publications and develop experience in using social media.

Investing in Social Change: The Practice of Philanthropy 

Eighteen undergraduate students in Kate Trimble and Linda Cook’s sociology course examine the practice of philanthropy. Students explore philanthropic strategies, social change, and the sociological dimensions of philanthropy in historic and current practice. Students engage in teams to investigate a particular community concern, design an investment strategy, and recommend the investment of grant dollars. With the support of the Swearer Center and strong community partnerships, students learn about the issues facing organizations in Providence and gain a comprehensive understanding of the complicated dynamics involved in “giving money away.” 

TRI-Lab: Healthy Food Access

 The Healthy Food Access Lab investigates community-based and food systems approaches to increasing access to healthy food and reducing obesity, food insecurity, and hunger. Faculty, students, and community practitioners work together to conduct research and develop projects which create positive social impact in local communities in Providence and Rhode Island. This Lab aims to reduce food insecurity and improve the nutritional health and well-being of individuals in those communities of concern through behavior changes, increased healthy food access enabled by improved socio-environmental conditions, and improved program delivery or policy structures. This Lab is co-chaired by Kim Gans, Professor, School of Public Health and Director, Institute for Community Health Promotion; and Courtney Bourns, Senior Program Officer, the Henry P. Kendall Foundation.