Community-Based Learning and Research (CBLR) Fellowship

In Spring 2020, the Swearer Center launched a new undergraduate fellowship to support Community-Based Learning and Research (CBLR) designated courses at Brown. CBLR Fellows work with instructors on planning and/or implementing specific engaged courses. While fellows’ responsibilities vary, they may serve as important peer mentors for students enrolled in the course to which they’re assigned, as well as liaisons between students, faculty, community partners, and Swearer Center staff. 


CBLR Fellows receive a $1475 stipend for each semester. This leadership experience will ideally relate to students' academic interests, support their sustained engagement with community partners or issues they care about, and further their skills in communication, partnership development, organizing, and problem-solving. Fellows’ responsibilities vary somewhat from course to course but require approximately 7 hours per week. CBLR Fellows have worked with faculty members on: 

  • Curriculum development (e.g., identifying relevant course resources, designing assignments or reflective activities, etc.); 
  • Facilitating specific class discussions, reflection sessions, and/or holding student office hours; 
  • Cultivating and coordinating relationships with community partners; 
  • Mentoring students around community engagement components of a course;
  • Documenting and disseminating the results of engaged courses; and 
  • Supporting longer-term engagement with community partners.

More than one fellow can be matched with faculty of larger courses so that each fellow is responsible for no more than 20 students.

Students as Colleagues

The Swearer Center understands the CBLR Fellowship as a leadership opportunity where student fellows are colleagues working alongside faculty (and community) partners; thus, the Swearer Center is intentional about the program being called a fellowship rather than a teaching assistantship. The word “fellow” signifies the more broad ranging work that a student participates in alongside their faculty partner — with an emphasis on the peer-like connotations of the word “fellowship” (i.e., being a peer mentor and support person for students enrolled in their assigned courses).

In “[s]hifting students from relatively ‘passive vessels for learning’ into ‘a force for more substantive academic and civic engagement’” (see Zlotkowski et al., 2006), the Swearer Center encourages participating faculty to work with CBLR Fellows as: 

  • partners in community-engaged teaching, learning, and research; 
  • peer mentors and leaders; 
  • reflection leaders; and
  • engaged scholars.  

In some courses, CBLR Fellows also may be collaborating with a teaching assistant. 

For more information on students are colleagues, see: 

  • Battistoni, R. M., & Longo, N. V. (2011). Putting students at the center of civic engagement. In J. Saltmarsh & M. Hartley (Eds.), “To serve a larger purpose”: Engagement for democracy and the transformation of higher education (pp. 199-216). Temple University Press. 
  • Zlotkowski, E., Longo, N. V., & Williams, J. R. (2006). Students as colleagues: Expanding the circle of service-learning leadership. Campus Compact.

Applications for the 2022-23 academic year are now closed. 

Applications for the 2023-24 academic year will open in November 2022. 

Any faculty member planning to teach an engaged course is welcome to apply to work with a CBLR Fellow; the Swearer Center encourages year-long partnerships when feasible but will also support one-semester collaborations. In the application letter, faculty can share any knowledge, skills, or characteristics they would consider critical in a fellow — and, if they would like to do so, they may express a preference for working with specific student applicants.

Likewise, any undergraduate with relevant experiences and interests may apply. Please note that students must be enrolled in Brown (either on-campus or remotely) when they apply for this position and must also be enrolled during the semester(s) they serve as a CBLR Fellow. University policies do not allow students on personal leave or medical leave to be eligible for this opportunity.


Short applications will be accepted through UFunds. For more information on past application cycles, see: 


Carmine Perrotti, Assistant Director of Community-Engaged Scholarship & Adjunct Assistant Professor of Education ([email protected], 401-863-3584).