HUM 400 Community-Based Scholarship

This introductory and interdisciplinary training is designed for graduate students, university-affiliated academics, and other public scholars interested in doing community-based scholarship. The equivalent of a three-day intensive, this certificate provides scholars with a framework to re-imagine their work as fully rooted within community relationships and extending beyond the borders of traditional academia. Our goal is to help each scholar as they explore the expanding possibilities of what community-based scholarship looks like.

Scholars—whether they are situated within the academy, nonprofit spaces, or other public-facing arenas—must expand their understanding of research and broaden their skill sets to include collaborative methodologies that prepare them for a wide range of potential scenarios. Each project reflects the complexities of its situated context, and there is no clear “how-to” manual for doing this work. This work requires scholars to reach beyond traditional academic training and enmesh themselves in a place, collaborate with the people who live there, and think creatively about what it means to do research.

Over the course of this training, we will rethink what a scholar looks like, both in and outside of academia. In addition to reviewing best practices, you will hear from a wide range of scholars as they share stories about the many hats they must wear to be successful at this work. This training is organized around five roles a scholar may navigate when doing community-based scholarship. We will discuss a scholar as a bridge builder, activist, community organizer, project manager, and storyteller. Upon completion, you will have the information and tools you need to initiate a collaborative project and take the next steps to form relationships with community partners.

Certifying Organization

The Institute for Diversity and Civic Life (IDCL) is a non-profit organization that creates more inclusive public spaces through storytelling, research, and education. This course is part of the Grounded Knowledge Project, an initiative funded by the Henry Luce Foundation that brings scholars from across Religious Studies and other humanities disciplines together to share resources and discuss their experiences of doing community-based work. IDCL’s approach to grounded knowledge is informed by our narrative and storytelling work. We create platforms to amplify underrepresented voices, empower people to tell their stories on their own terms and democratize the historical record.

What will we learn?

The certificate program is comparable to a one-credit hour course for non-credit students. In total, this program will provide learners with an overview of five different roles that a scholar often fills over the course of a community-based project: 

I. Scholar as Bridge Builder: Explore how scholars can connect communities and institutions, building bridges between theory and everyday practices of knowledge production.

II. Scholar as Activist: Interrogate the advantages and challenges of pursuing work committed to social change and identify frameworks for understanding the ethical commitments of this work.

III.. Scholar as Community Organizer: Learn about frameworks for developing rich relationships with your community and develop strategies to support community initiatives and goals.

IV. Scholar as Project Manager: Review best practices and explore tools to help you imagine, execute, and document your community-based project.

V. Scholar as Storyteller: Think creatively about your project outputs and delve into collaborative options for telling the story of your community and their project.

Taken together, the lessons in this course provide learners with insight into a range of skills and approaches that often lay outside of the traditional role of a scholar. This training is geared toward learners who already have qualitative research training and seek guidance on extending their scholarship and methodologies to include rich and sustainable community partnerships. The stories, tools, and exercises presented in this certificate are provided to guide learners through exploring possible approaches. We hope that you will take what works for you and apply it to your own work.


Dr. Tiffany Puett

Executive Director
Institute for Diversity and Civic Life

Dr. Elizabeth M. Melton

Public Engagement Director
Institute for Diversity and Civic Life

Dr. Harold D. Morales

Executive Director, Center for the Study of Religion and the City
Associate Professor, Morgan State University

Dr. Habiba Noor

Visiting Assistant Professor, Education
Trinity University

Dr. Jorge Juan Rodríguez V

Associate Director for Strategic Programming (HSP) | Visiting Assistant Professor of Historical Studies (UTS)
Hispanic Summer Program | Union Theological Seminary

Dr. Nathan C. Walker

President, 1791 Delegates

Not Enrolled
XX-hour course

College, Graduate, Professional Development

Civic Education for the Common Good

We apply the U.S. Department of Education’s Consensus Statements about Constitutional Approaches for Teaching about Religion

▸ Our approach to religion is academic, not devotional;
▸ We strive for student awareness of religions, but do not press for student acceptance of any religion;
▸ We sponsor the study about religion, not the practice of religion;
▸ We expose students to a diversity of religious views, but may not impose any particular view;
▸ We educate about all religions, we do not promote or denigrate any religion;
▸ We inform students about religious beliefs and practices, it does not seek to conform students to any particular belief or practice.

We apply the American Academy of Religion’s “Religious Literacy Guidelines”

▸ “Religious Literacy Guidelines for College Students.” American Academy of Religion, 2019.
▸ “Teaching About Religion: AAR Guidelines for K-12 Public Schools.” American Academy of Religion, April 2010.

Special Thanks

The Institute for Diversity and Civic Life’s certificate in community-based scholarship was made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

In addition to the Grounded Knowledge Project Certificate Committee who helped develop and design content for this certificate, we’d also like to thank the other members of the Grounded Knowledge Project Working Group for all of their contributions: Chris Cantwell, Assistant Professor of Digital Public History as Loyola University Chicago; John Paul Christy, Senior Director of US Programs at the American Council of Learned Societies; Henry Goldschmidt, Director of Programs at Interfaith Center of New York; Megan Goodwin, Founder and Co-Director of Bardo Institute for Religion and Public Policy; Farina King, Associate Professor of Native American Studies at University of Oklahoma; and Laura McTighe, Assistant Professor at Florida State University and Co-Founder of Front Porch Research Strategy. The onboarding and technical support came from the staff of

The continuation of this work depends on contributions from generous supporters like you. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Institute for Diversity and Civic Life, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (EIN 47-3265073).

Special thanks go to all of our featured scholars who shared their stories with us and to our team of curriculum reviewers who provided us with invaluable feedback during the development process. Our review team included: Desiree Barron-Callaci, John Paul Christy, Rebekah Coffman, Ayodele Laveau, Laura McTighe, Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria, and Teresa Smallwood.