Clark scholars from most of our graduate programs promote and participate in an innovative model of engaged scholarship that transcends traditional disciplinary and societal boundaries and connects rigorous coursework and research with active and innovative engagement with communities. Our faculty and students work closely with community partners to design projects and strategies that address issues of shared concern.
Clark researchers have had a longstanding commitment to linking transformative research to the world of action. This approach integrates with classroom learning to create a unique space where students and faculty engage in research that’s academically relevant, globally consequential and personally meaningful.
Engaged Scholarship in Action
Addressing Youth and Gang Violence in Worcester
- Students in the Community Needs and Resources Analysis class conducted a comprehensive analysis of the drivers of youth and gang violence in Worcester. Their report informed the creation of the Worcester Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. Students learned valuable skills in analyzing secondary data, conducting key informant interviews, and developing professional reports. Students in this class have also conducted assessments of the causes and consequences of youth homelessness in Worcester and the topic of boys’ well-being in the city.
- Students in the Community Development and Planning Practicum worked with the city of Worcester and a group of community partners on the community engagement phase of the development of the Worcester Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. After developing a working understanding of how to do community-based action research, the students conducted community conversations about the findings in the needs assessment with dozens of community members and groups. The students organized and facilitated two large community meetings involving well over 200 individuals — including youth, parents, faith community, city leaders, and non-profit representatives) in a process to discuss and prioritize drivers of violence and potential solutions. Students ‘staffed’ working groups for the prioritized areas. Finally, students developed a report for each domain of the plan.
- Students in the Program Evaluation course work with community partners who are implementing programs relative to youth and gang violence to conduct an evaluability assessment and provide recommendations to the program and funder about ways to improve program operations and effectiveness. Students learn about various types of program evaluation (e.g. formative, summative, empowerment, etc.), analyze evaluation reports, and work on an actual evaluation. Students gain enough skill to assist in the development and implementation of evaluations, particularly formative-oriented, qualitative assessments.
Creating Sustainability Action Plans
Students in the Sustainability Consulting Projects course have created Sustainability Action Plans for over 150 companies, non-profits organizations and local governments. Through the plans and advice given, the student teams have reduced the carbon footprint, as well as saved money, for many organizations in the local area. At the same time, students have learned invaluable project management and consulting skills for their future careers.
Building Project Management Plans
The Management Consulting Projects course builds problem definition, analysis and critical thinking skills while helping a local organization address a compelling business issue. Student teams gain hands-on experience in dealing with client communication, project scoping and project management. Through this course, about 700 students have performed over 150 projects for clients that range from publicly traded to small entrepreneurial firms in manufacturing, medical services, service companies and non-profits.
Many organizations have implemented the teams’ recommendations, which has resulted in more efficient and/or effective operations and improved financial results. Project examples include helping clients select enterprise systems, preparing strategic plans, identifying and analyzing potential acquisition candidates, preparing market research for new medical products and services, and financial reviews.
Conducting Marketing Research
Students in Marketing Research and Marketing Consulting Projects courses have provided extensive research results and recommendations to companies looking to expand markets, more effectively reach their target customers and better serve existing customers. Benefits to the companies have been substantial, as have been the benefits to the students, who have learned marketing research tools and techniques, presentation skills and general consulting skills.