Engaged Scholarship Certificate

Sponsored by the Department of Sociology and the Swearer Center, the Engaged Scholarship Certificate (ESC) allows undergraduate students to investigate public, civic, and/or social justice issues that they are passionate about through the integration of academic study with community-based learning, research, and action. 

This certificate builds on the strengths and core elements of the Engaged Scholars Program (ESP), which is now being phased out. (Current ESP students will be supported through to graduation, but new applications are not being accepted.)

Students will be able to submit ESC declarations beginning in Fall 2021. In the meantime, interested students are encouraged to begin thinking about their potential focus and pathway through the certificate – and to consult not only with the staff listed below, but also with faculty, peer and/or community-based advisors with relevant knowledge and experience.  


The ESC can complement any concentration. Engaged Scholars complete four requirements, all focused on a public, civic, and/or social justice issue they identify as the focus of their certificate experience:

  1. Core course (0-1 credit): SOC 0310: Theory and Practice of Engaged Scholarship (substitute allowed, including not-for-credit option via Bonner Community Fellowship)

  2. Interdisciplinary electives (3 credits): 

    • CBLR course – 1 course carrying the Community-Based Learning and Research (CBLR) curricular designation (substitute allowed)

    • Issue area course – 1 open elective that addresses the student’s stated public, civic, and/or social justice issue of interest - any course with approval

    • Critical perspectives course - 1 course that examines the broader ethical, political, and social context of the issue that is the focus of the student’s certificate – may be a course with the DIAP designation

  3. Practicum (0-1 credits): a significant community-based experience, plus reflection assignments

  4. Capstone (0-1 credits): a culminating learning experience through which students demonstrate their achievement and competency in engaged scholarship

    • Credit-bearing option: Students may select an upper-level course – including potentially a concentration capstone course – or propose an independent study (DISP or GISP) aligned with their research interests and, with the agreement of the instructor, pursue a project with a collaborating non-academic partner.

    • Non-credit-bearing option: Students will create an electronic portfolio of papers, projects, and/or other artifacts developed in certificate-related courses and/or the practicum, accompanied by a reflective essay. 

    • If the core course is not completed for credit, the capstone must be. 

    • Students can count one course toward both their concentration and the certificate. When feasible, we encourage having the capstone be that course.

Further information on these requirements will be available here later in Spring 2021.


The College Curriculum Council has provided an overview of undergraduate certificates at Brown, as well as detailed guidelines for students who wish to pursue them, including the certificate in engaged scholarship. Beginning in Fall 2021, students may formally declare their intention to pursue the Engaged Scholarship Certificate if they meet the following criteria:

  • I have an approved concentration on file in ASK.

  • I have completed or I am enrolled in at least two courses that will meet requirements for the ESC.

  • I have included a written statement in ASK discussing my rationale for pursuing the ESC and the relationship between it and my declared concentration.

  • I am enrolled in at least my fifth or sixth semester.

  • It is no later than the last day of classes in my antepenultimate (typically the sixth) semester.

  • I am not pursuing another certificate at Brown University.

  • I am pursuing only one concentration at Brown University.

  • I have no more than one course in my ESC plan that overlaps with my declared concentration.

  • If I am a student pursuing a 5th year combined degree at Brown University, I have, in advance of the certificate deadlines, successfully petitioned the Committee on Academic Standing for the option to pursue a certificate.


With any questions about the Engaged Scholarship Certificate or the transition from the ESP to the ESC, please contact Julie Plaut, Director of Engaged Scholarship, Swearer Center, and Assistant Dean of the College, at [email protected], or email [email protected].