Civically Engaged Research

Halal and Lang
Assessing Impact of Healthy School Food Campaign


Civically Engaged Research is simply the application of social science research methodology in service of a community for a particular purpose.  It is the use of the tools developed by social science to answer the questions raised by a community and  fully involves that community in the development and implementation of the research as well as the interpretation of the data collected and the application of the findings.  Civically Engaged Research is community led from beginning to end.

The Knowledge needed to build healthy, rooted communities comes from many places. It emerges from our communities in the form of  promising practices; from our universities in the form of theory; and from our institutions in the form of policy. The Global ARC brings these forms of knowledge together so we can learn from each other and create synergies that moves a progressive agenda forward.

Civically Engaged Research can assist a community in:

  • Articulating Issues: The research is designed to articulate and document an issue or problem that has been identified by the community but the larger system seems to ignore or deny its existence.   
  • Identifying Issues: This type of research is designed to identify community interests and concerns.  It is similar to a needs assessment except that it goes beyond need and  assesses what a community wants and can contribute as well, for the purpose of developing a strategic plan.
  • Informing a Campaign: This type of research is designed to support a particular community campaign aimed at bringing about a specific outcome. 

The research and evaluation efforts of the Global ARC utilize a Participatory Action Research approach to support communities in developing the knowledge and tools necessary to insert their voice into the public dialogue.  Research and evaluation findings become the basis for action and are documented and published in a manner that is useful to community residents, community organizers, educators, researchers, foundations and policy makers.


  • Hunger and the Safety Net In San Diego County:  A dozen low-income women conducted over 400 hours of interviews with households earning less 200% of the federal poverty level. These women, developed the interview questions, conducted over 185 interviews, analyzed and published results and made over 100 presentations throughout the county.  This study changed the dialogue on food stamps in the county.
  • Access to Quality Healthcare for East African Families:  Twenty-two women, refugees from eight different East African Countries, developed and conducted a survey of 220 other East African women refugees on their access to healthcare. This study highlighted the poor quality of interpretation services being offered to this community.
  • Crawford Community Assessment:  A group of thirteen students, alumni and parents from a school community (i.e., a neighborhood served by a high school and its feeder middle and elementary schools) developed a community assessment and surveyed 100 youth and 100 adults on the issues of health, education, safety and youth.  An outcome of this assessment was the formation of the Parent~Student~Resident Organization that has become a strong voice for the that community in school policy.
  • Youth Opportunity Pass:  A campaign by a local advocacy organization resulted in an agreement to launch a pilot program that would provide 1,000 transit passes for low-income high school students for at least one year.  The advocacy organization wanted to assess the impact of the passes on the students to support a campaign for expanding the program.  The evaluation was based on the organization's goals and objectives.