• Swearer Center Staff
Mathew Johnson Swearer Center

Mathew Johnson

Senior Fellow, Swearer Center
Past Executive Director, Swearer Center
Associate Dean of the College, Engaged Scholarship
Professor of Practice, Sociology
Joined Swearer Center Staff in 2016

Joined Swearer Center Staff in 


Mathew Johnson is Associate Dean of the College for Engaged Scholarship and a senior fellow at the Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University. He is a Carnegie Visiting Fellow at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and a fellow at the Doerr Institute for New Leaders at Rice University. Mathew directs the Carnegie Foundation Elective Classifications Project, which includes the Community Engagement Classification hosted by the Swearer Center. He is currently leading the multi-year international Carnegie Community Engagement Classification project, which includes 26 institutions of higher education across the world. Mathew co-founded and co-directs the National Assessment of Service and Community Engagement with the Siena College Research Institute. He also sits on the editorial board for “Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement,” and is recognized as an Ashoka Change Leader by the Ashoka Foundation.

As the executive director of the Swearer Center from 2016-2020, and as a consultant to the Center in 2015, Mathew led the development of a transformational strategic plan and oversaw the growth and development of curricular and co-curricular programs, including Brown in Washington, the Engaged Scholars Program, the Bonner Community Fellowship, the Brown University AmeriCorps VISTA Fellowship, Community Corps, and the Royce Fellowship. Mathew also guided new approaches to Faculty Fellowships and Community Practitioners in Residence. Under his leadership, the Center made significant curricular contributions to Brown, including guidance to departments endorsed by the College Curriculum Committee for capstones, for credit-related to experiential learning, and for the creation of a new curricular category for “community-based learning and research” courses.

Under his guidance, the Swearer Center also strengthened its leadership role in the fields of community engagement and engaged scholarship by becoming the research and administrative home of the Carnegie Elective Classification in Community Engagement. Mathew has overseen the development of the research codebook for the classification data, the development of a system for researcher access to the classification data, revision of the documentation framework, diversification of the National Advisor Board, development of an online submission platform, and new commitments to transparency and openness for the classification.

During Mathew’s time as Executive Director, the Center became the home of the National Inventory for Institutional Infrastructure in Community Engagement, the institutional co-sponsor for the National Assessment of Service and Community Engagement in partnership with the Siena College Research Institute, and institutional co-sponsor for “Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement” in partnership with the University of Technology, Sydney. Mathew catalyzed the new regional approach to the Campus Compact Emerging Scholars project in collaboration with Campus Compact, and facilitated and hosted several gatherings of the Ivy+ Deans and Directors peer group for public service while in the role of Executive Director. 

Mathew’s time as Executive Director also saw several significant shifts in the Center. Commitments to diversity and inclusion led to fundamental changes in staffing, orientations to partner organizations and communities, and student participation demographics. The Center embraced a philosophy that positioned community partners as experts and leaders and worked to develop more robust co-curricular training for students to critically examine issues of power, privilege, and positionality in their community engagement. Finally, Mathew significantly increased the campus understanding of engaged scholarship and secured significant new resources for the Center as part of Brown Together. The impact of the Center, along with many other similar initiatives at Brown, was most recently demonstrated by Brown’s successful selection as a recipient of the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.

Earning his Ph.D. and M.A. in Sociology from Brandeis University, Mathew has been a faculty member for more than 20 years. He holds an appointment as Professor of the Practice in Sociology at Brown University and maintains an active research and professional academic profile. Mathew has published several edited volumes, chapters, and articles on community engagement, including “Elective Carnegie Community Engagement Classification” (co-editor, Stylus, 2017), editor and author of “Deepening Community Engagement in Higher Education: Forging New Pathways” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and “Crossing Boundaries: Tensions and Transformation in International Service-Learning” (Stylus, 2014).

Mathew serves on the Internal Advisory Board of the Advance Center for Clinical and Translational Research (U54GM115677) at Brown, and on the Corporation of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Consortium on Peace Research, Education, and Development (COPRED), and the Board of the Peace Studies Association (PSA) and the Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA). He has also served on committees of the Peace and War Section of the American Sociological Association, and as a Vice President and President of the New England Sociological Society. Mathew is a trained mediator and facilitator of adventure-based education. Recognized as a Campus Compact Engaged Scholar (2007), Mathew has consulted for more than 300 institutions of higher education both nationally and internationally. He frequently serves as an invited speaker for academic and professional conferences and gatherings and delivers workshops and professional development symposia on higher education leadership and community engagement.

For more information on Dr. Mathew Johnson, visit his LinkedIn profile.