Lang Center
for Civic & Social Responsibility

Nelson Flores '03, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania on Defining Public Scholarship in the Age of Social Media.

“Envisioning Public/Engaged Scholarship at Swarthmore” brought faculty, students, and community members together to highlight and investigate the concept of public/engaged scholarship. The event featured a keynote address by University of Pennsylvania Professor Nelson Flores ’03 on Defining Public Scholarship in the Age of Social Media.

What is Engaged Scholarship?

Ernest Boyer coined the term “Engaged Scholarship” to describe teaching and research that connect “the rich resources of the university to our most pressing social, civic, and ethical problems” (Boyer, 1996 [pdf]). Engaged Scholarship denotes an orientation; engaged scholars direct their energies not solely toward an academic community, or toward the life of the mind, but also toward pressing public issues or shared problems. The term captures the ways in which the Lang Center connects the “three C's” of curriculum, campus, and communities for reciprocal gains.

Communities in this context include the proximate communities of Chester, PA, and the greater Philadelphia area; more distant community partners around the country and globe; and the community of scholars and practitioners who share knowledge and best practices regarding ethical action and civic engagement.

We conceptualize Engaged Scholarship as extending to a broad range of approaches, including intensive collaborations with off-campus partners (community-based learning and community-engaged research); experiential learning that connects students with issues outside the classroom (field study, immersion experiences, or travel in connection with a course); and scholarship that resides on campus but aims toward social amelioration or public benefit. The Lang Center can offer resources—financial, human, and social capital—to facilitate any of these approaches for interested faculty or students. In other words, we can provide funding, expert advising in professional “best practices,” and connections to relevant partners on or off campus.

In response to faculty interest expressed at a series of Fall 2015 receptions, Denise Crossan, Lang Visiting Professor for Issues of Social Change, developed a campus Civic Engagement Map, a user-friendly platform that allows faculty members to see what kinds of Engaged Scholarship projects (research and teaching) others are undertaking, and to view other faculty members’ community partners. This platform helps faculty, students, and community organizations to identify potential collaborators for research or teaching, and/or to find new ideas for applying their work to issues of community benefit. Those wishing to learn more can view this explanatory video


Since 2017, the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility has sponsored an annual symposium on the topic of engaged scholarship. These symposia are designed to educate, support, and foster a community around engaged scholarship at Swarthmore College. 

Past and Upcoming Symposia 





  • Samia Abass ’11, The Stories Bursting from Us: Sharing Individual Experiences Through Theater as a Means of Peace Building in Northern Ireland
  • Sa’ed Atshan ’06, Gay in the Arab World: A Comparison of Cairo and Beirut's LGBT Communities
  • Shandra Bernath-Plaisted ’09, Communal strategies for social protest and change: communes as indirect challenges to systems of authority during the civil rights movement
  • Adam Bortner ’11, “We’re Not All Dead”: Healing from and Challenging AIDS-Related Stigma with Digital Storytelling
  • Katie Camillus ’08, Microfinance in a Ugandan Community of Internally Displaced Persons: Repayment Frequency, Impact, and the Challenges of Program Development
  • Reina Chaino ’09, Historical Education as Reconciliation: Teaching History in Northern Ireland
  • Ana Chiu ’06, Comparison of Cost Effectiveness of Sexual Health Education Programs
  • Elowyn Corby ’13, Training for Change: Moving from Theory to Practice in Adult Education for Empowerment
  • Gina Grubb ’10, Exploring the Experiences of Students in the Chester Community Fellows Program
  • Priya Johnson ’11, Locating Resistance in Refugee Hip Hop: A Case Study
  • Hannah Kurtz ’13, Going to School With Them or Without Them: The Interactions of Schooling and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland
  • Hannah Lehmann ’13, Expanding Identities: Identity Transformations in In-prison Higher Education
  • Camila Leiva ’09, Building Power: Youth Organizing as an Effective Model for Latino/a Youth Community Participation
  • Tom Liu ’11, Kan Bing Gui: The Problem of Runaway Health Care Expenditure in Rural China
  • Nick Palazzolo ’13, Why Do We Help and What Do We Learn? Social Action and Moral Development at Swarthmore College
  • Lois Park ’10, Increasing the Efficacy of Malnutrition Treatment to Reduce Childhood (U5) Mortality in Sierra Leone
  • Isabel Sacks ’15, Teaching for Social Justice in Rural Dominican Republic
  • Anson Stewart ’10, Rides and Rights: Organizing for Transportation Justice in Boston and Los Angeles
  • Anna Stitt ’13, In the Interstices of Capitalism: Evaluating Social Reproduction and Transformation in the Case of a Timebank
  • Maurice Weeks ’09, Immigrants and Minorities in Northern Ireland: Creating Peace—Defining the Other
  • Joslyn Young ’10, Cameras Rolling, and ... ACTION! Youth Development in a Media Production Program


Community-Based Learning (CBL) is a pedagogical approach that is based on the premise that the most profound learning often comes from experience that is supported by guidance, context-providing, foundational knowledge, and intellectual analysis. The Lang Center staff supports faculty in teaching rich CBL courses, specifically, and engaged scholarship courses more broadly. The opportunity for students to bring thoughtful knowledge and ideas based on personal observation and social interaction to a course's themes and scholarly arguments brings depth to the learning experience for individuals and to the content of the course. The communities of which we are a part can benefit from the resources of our faculty and students, while the courses can be educationally transformative in powerful ways.

Click here to find the current list of Engaged Scholarship Courses [SwatDoc]