BEO Engaged Scholar Program (ESP)

Community-engaged scholarship at Brown is an integrative approach to liberal arts education that links traditional academic study with an active inquiry into important social issues in real-world settings.  Our goal is to create high-impact learning opportunities for students and university-community partnerships to produce tangible public benefits. Community-engaged scholarship is premised on the idea that reciprocal exchanges between academic and non-academic partners - in the classroom, on campus, in the community - create rich opportunities for learning and problem-solving that advance scholarship and help to create a more just and equitable society.  Bridging the gaps between the community and the university, between theoretical knowledge and praxis, and between individual academic goals and community benefit are at the core of community-engaged scholarship.

The BEO concentration is also focused on bridging important gaps:  between disciplines in the study of organizational change and innovation, between theoretical and applied knowledge, and across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.  Thus, a “community-engaged scholar option” within BEO makes good sense.  BEO concentrators seeking to be engaged scholars identify a real-world issue(s) of most concern to the student, and actively construct a plan of action, study, and integration to address that issue.

To be an engaged scholar in the BEO concentration, students will work with faculty to craft a mission statement, refine their academic plan (course choices), identify internship and/or research projects (praxis), and integrate their senior capstone experience into a holistic plan.  An engaged BEO scholar will articulate a specific societal good he or she wants to advance, craft an academic plan to acquire the research skills and knowledge necessary to do informed scholarship, identify internship and/or research projects to further build skills and experiences, and establish experiential learning goals to be achieved through the BEO senior capstone course.   

Requirements for Engaged Scholars in BEO

Students will be expected to meet the Engaged Scholars Program requirements:

  • Students must enroll in the required ESP seminar (currently SOC 310:  Theory and Practice of Engaged Scholarship) and participate in an interdisciplinary community of undergraduate scholars that meets regularly for programming (workshops, lectures and other events.)  
  • A 150 - 250 hour ESP practicum, defined by significant experiential work with a community partner.  Practicums can be completed as a volunteer, as a paid intern, or for academic credit.  If completed as a volunteer or as a paid intern, the practicum is supervised by ESP staff and involves written assignments and in-person advising.  If students would prefer to receive credit, Brown Contemplative Studies currently offers a Community Engagement Internship Program, participation in which can serve to fulfill the practicum requirement. 
  • Completion of three BEO engaged scholarship elective courses (see Academic Plan below)
  • Completion of the BEO senior capstone course (see Capstone Course below)

See ESP website for more information.

ESP Academic Plan:

BEO Students are required to take at least three courses that will help ground the student in relevant theory, methods and respected scholarship related to their engaged scholarship goals.   One of the BEO Foundation courses (ENGN 1010) already provides substantial background in both “bridging the gap” between theory and practice and acquiring skills in the experiential understanding of entrepreneurship.  The Entrepreneurial Process: Innovation in Practice (ENGN 1010) provides students with an overview of the process involved in creating a new venture, a grounding in current theories and practices related to entrepreneurship, and a required project which includes conducting customer validation and crafting a business plan for the new venture.

The two remaining courses can be selected from a variety of advanced electives in either Organizational Studies, Advanced Research Methods courses, or Data Methods-intensive electives from Economics.  (It is preferred that these courses should be advanced electives rather than BEO foundation classes, however, some foundation classes may be acceptable.)  Given year-to-year changes in faculty and course availability, this is a flexible list of example courses, and the student is encouraged to consult with their Track Advisor, the BEO Faculty Director, or the BEO Associate Director for current listings of appropriate courses.    In addition to courses that provide theory and methods, classes that also require a project, research or fieldwork with a community partner are encouraged. 

Examples of Elective Courses for BEO Engaged Scholars:

Either advanced substantive courses or advanced methods courses could be chosen to complete an ESP program in BEO.  Substantive courses should in some way address the issues relevant to the student’s ESP mission statement.  Advanced methods courses should help build skills in primary data collection methods that would help the student achieve his/her ESP goals.  The following is a non-exhaustive list of such courses (NOTE:  ALL COURSES BELOW ARE ACCEPTABLE BEO TRACK  ELECTIVE OR METHODS OPTIONS):

Substantive Course:

  • ECON 1760:  Financial Institutions
  • ECON 1790:  Corporate Governance, Finance,& Management
  • EDUC 1150:  Education, the Economy & School Reform
  • ENGN 1930S:  Land Use & Built Environment: An Entrepreneurial View
  • PLCY 1701Q:  Leading Social Ventures
  • PLCY 1700V: Nonprofit Organizations
  • PLCY 1800:  Investigating Modes of Social Change
  • PLCY 1910:  Social Entrepreneurship
  • PLCY 2550: Managing and Leading in Public Affairs
  • SOC 1121: Creative Companies
  • SOC 1870A:  Investing in Social Change
  • SOC 1871L:  Innovators, Entrepreneurs & Other Disruptors
  • SOC 1871M: Theories of the Third Sector & Civil Society
  • SOC 2060: Complex Organizations and Health Policy
  • SOC 2960F:  Global Political Economy

Advanced Methods Courses:

  • ANTH 1940:  Ethnographic Research Methods
  • EDUC 1160:  Evaluating the Impact of Social Programs
  • PHP 1320:  Survey Research in Health Care
  • PLCY 1200:  Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation
  • PLCY 2050:  Program Evaluation
  • SOC 1117:  Focus Groups for Market & Social Research
  • SOC 1118:  Context Research for Innovation
  • SOC 1120:  Sample Surveys in Social Research
  • ECON 1310:  Labor Economics
  • ECON 1360:  Health Economics
  • ECON 1510:  Economic Development
  • ECON 1765:  Finance, Regulation & the Economy

BEO Capstone

BEO requires all seniors to participate in a capstone course.  This class is designed to be an integrative experience wherein students apply theory, methods and research skills to help solve the problem of an organization, business, nonprofit, or start-up company.  This capstone course is an excellent vehicle for Engaged Scholars to apply skills, experiences, and knowledge to a specific project.  BEO Engaged Scholars will be given preference in capstone project assignments to best fit with the Scholars’ ESP Plan.

How to Apply

  • Students apply to ESP when declaring their concentration in ASK, typically in the second semester of their sophomore year. ESP is selective and applications will be reviewed by departments and ESP staff in mid-April of the application year. Students will be contacted by ESP staff directly about their application status. If you miss the deadline but are interested in applying, contact: [email protected].
  • While it is typical that students apply to the Engaged Scholars Program during sophomore year when declaring a concentration, you may revise your declaration to apply to the Engaged Scholars Program if you have enough remaining semesters at Brown to complete the program requirements.  


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

I missed the application deadline. Is it too late to apply?
ESP is a competitive program.  You can apply after the April 7 deadline, and applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by ESP staff and ESP concentration advisors.  If you have missed the deadline but are interested in applying, fill out the application in ASK and be sure to contact [email protected] to let us know that you submitted an application.

I’m a junior/senior. Is it too late to apply?
It may be difficult to begin the program after your fifth semester and still be able to meet all of the program requirements.  However, if you think that you may be able to complete the requirements in your remaining time at Brown, please contact [email protected] or make an office hours appointment with ESP staff to discuss.

For more information contact:

Brendan McNally, Interim Director, CV Starr Program in Business, Entrepreneurship and Organizations (BEO)  [email protected].