Community Based Research Fellowship Cultivates Students' Social Consciousness

By Ryan Gayman

 

A theatre arts student researches the effect of theatre programs on Pittsburgh youth at Heritage Out of School Time (HOST) in Braddock. A group of electrical, civil, and computer engineering students conduct collaborative research and develop Application-based software to support the educational curriculum at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Blind. A non-fiction writing student explores the stories of undocumented college students through Testimonio with the goal of questioning the roles of authorship in research and starting a conversation on immigration within the academy. 

These are just three examples of research topics in the inaugural 2013 Fall University Honors College Community Based Research Fellowship (CBR Fellowship), the UHC’s newest program that cultivates students' social consciousness as part of independent undergraduate research.

The CBR framework directly applies its research process to investigating pertinent issues in the community. Fellows work with community partners (e.g. non-profit organizations) to develop research projects that explore and address issues that are important to their community partners. The results or outcomes of the research are intended to support the Fellow’s community partner and effect positive social change. Faculty mentors work with each Fellow to help guide their research.

Fellows receive an $800 stipend for the semester. In the spirit of promoting multidisciplinary discussion, Fellows participate in a bi-weekly seminar where they share their research experiences and discuss assigned readings to reflect on how different disciplines engage in ethical scholarship in the community. The Fall program will end in early December when Fellows submit a written report and present their research and Fellowship experience to an audience of peers, faculty, staff, and community members.

As Fellows put their education to action and apply their academic talents and skills in the community, they gain a deeper understanding of their field of interest and how it relates to impacting the lives of others. Below is a list of the 2013 Fall CBR Fellows, their fields, projects, community partners, and faculty mentors.

2013 Fall UHC Community Research Fellows

Eric Bucklen – Electrical Engineering | Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children | Analysis and Modification of Existing iPad Applications & Instructional Guide for Future Freshmen Engineering Students | Dr. Daniel Budny

Don Bullock – Computer Engineer | Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children | Analysis and Modification of Existing iPad Applications & Instructional Guide for Future Freshmen Engineering Students | Dr. Daniel Budny

Ellen Connally – Theatre Arts & French | Heritage Community Initiatives | The Actor in All of us: Theatre for Empowerment in Braddock | Cynthia Croot

Bennett Garner – Urban Studies & Communication | Summerbridge Pittsburgh | Strategies for Successful High School Transitions for Summerbridge Students | Dr. Tom Akiva

Shelby Pasell – Nonfiction Writing & Spanish | Latino Immigrants | Dreaming in Public: The Testimonios of Four Undocumented College Students | Dr. Shalini Puri

Jeremy Teichmann – Civil Engineering | Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children | Analysis and Modification of Existing iPad Applications & Instructional Guide for Future Freshmen Engineering Students | Dr. Daniel Budny

Sarah Winston – Anthropology and Spanish | Community Coalition for Violence Prevention and Intervention | The Violence Prevention Project of Pittsburgh | Dr. Richard Garland

Linden Wu – Nursing | Women's Center and Shelter of Pittsburgh | Prevention Curriculum of Teen Dating Violence in Urban High Schools | Dr. Willa Doswell

 

To learn more about each Fellow and his or her project click here.

This inaugural cohort of CBR Fellows exemplifies the important role that Pitt students can and should play in the Pittsburgh community. By immersing their academic pursuits in the community, Fellows explore how learning and research alongside community members can address real world issues and promote equality.

Interested in applying? The deadline to submit an application for the Spring UHC Community Based Research Fellowship is November 15. To learn more about the application process click here.