The National Field-Building Initiative aims to advance the fields of community engagement and social innovation through collaboration with students, faculty, community partners and other institutions of higher education. It is an effort on the part of the Swearer Center to intentionally cultivate synergies between advancing community engagement at Brown University and advancing community engagement nationally and internationally. With this initiative, the center is cultivating an outward focus on participatory field-building with the goal of facilitating collaborative efforts to advance community engagement and to identify exemplary community engagement and to make it visible as a model for others.
Currently in the early stages of this Initiative, the Swearer Center is hosting the Carnegie Foundation’s Elective Community Engagement Classification, the National Assessment for Service and Community Engagement (NASCE), and the Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty. Each of these projects are important in allowing institutions and faculty to claim and highlight their community engaged work. The Field-Building Initiative also hopes to capitalize on the intersections of these projects. For example, campuses that achieve the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification hold the classification for ten years. The NASCE may serve as an assessment tool that can be used more often to guide the strategic direction of community engagement on a campus, and in this way may serve as evidence that campuses can use in their Carnegie application. The Lynton Award, while focused on the engaged scholarly work of faculty, may also provide evidence in a Carnegie application, and can serve to highlight the kinds of exemplary community engaged academic practice undertaken by faculty as a way for campuses to assess how best to provide institutional support for faculty.