Schulz Information Center

“In CBPR, all partners have to be involved; everyone has different strengths to bring to the table and not all strengths consist of academic knowledge.”
—Natalia Deeb–Sossa, Assistant Professor in Chicana/o Studies at UC Davis

SSU faculty member

Community-Based Participatory Research

While there are many forms of community engaged scholarship, community-based participatory research (CBPR) has had the benefits of evolving out of the others and being the most intentionally reciprocal.

CBPR is research that is conducted as an equal partnership between traditionally trained "experts" and members of a community. In CBPR projects, the community partner participates fully in all aspects of the research process.1 CBPR encourages collaboration of formally trained research partners from any area of expertise, provided that the researcher provide expertise that is seen as useful to the investigation by the community, and be fully committed to a partnership of equals and producing outcomes usable to the community.

Equitable partnerships require sharing power, resources, credit, results, and knowledge, as well as a reciprocal appreciation of each partner's knowledge and skills at each stage of the project, including problem definition/issue selection, research design, conducting research, interpreting the results, and determining how the results should be used for action.

CBPR differs from traditional research in many ways. One of the principal ways in which it is different is that instead of creating knowledge for the advancement of a field or for knowledge's sake, CBPR is an iterative process, incorporating research, reflection, and action in a cyclical process.

According to the WK Kellogg Foundation Community Health Scholars ProgramOpens in new tab., Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) is a “collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. CBPR begins with a research topic of importance to the community, has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change to improve (health) outcomes and eliminate (health) disparities.”

There is evidence that the most learning occurs and the best knowledge generated when students are involved. Research by the Pew Partnership for Civic ChangeOpens in new tab. and Campus Compact shows that CBPR works best when integrated into academic coursework. This combination of CBPR and service-learning pedagogies increases student learning and greatly increases sustainability and outcomes of the community work.

1Minkler and Wallerstein, ed. (2008). Community-Based Participatory Research for Health: From Process to Outcomes. This is available in the CCE libraryOpens in new tab.. Contact us to review it.