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DC Community Impact Scholars

Where Scholarship Meets Action

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Amanda Harrison
Assistant Director, Honors and Scholars Programs

Anderson Hall, Room 106 on a map

DC Community Impact Scholars 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20016 United States

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Make an Impact

The DC Community Impact Scholars program is a selective, living-learning community experience that emphasizes responsible and meaningful community-engaged learning. Through this two-year program, students become deeply connected to the DC that exists beyond the monuments and museums, learning to work closely with community members and nonprofits to turn scholarship into action.

In the first-year, students enroll in a Scholars-only section of Complex Problems, taught by some of AU's best faculty.  Additionally, students will take a yearlong lab course that introduces them to the history of DC as well as its current issues, principles of ethical and responsible community engagement, and the fundamentals of social science research.

In their sophomore year, students will deepen their learning through a yearlong community-based research course centered on a faculty-led research project that will be co-designed with a community partner. Impact Scholars are trained in research methods, research ethics, and issues relevant to the participating nonprofit's area of focus.

Students are offered admission to the program by invitation only at the time of their admission to the university. The program is open to incoming freshmen with demonstrated interest in community service, social justice, and research.

Program Features

  • Live, learn and serve together, establishing a strong community during their first years at AU.
  • Take a Complex Problems course and lab with passionate professors who connect course learning objectives with community needs and community-based learning.
  • Participate in a research methods course, with projects designed in collaboration with a local nonprofit.
  • Engage in ongoing personal and professional development designed to train them to be change agents in our communities.
  • Develop and maintain ongoing community relationships through service and research-oriented projects.
  • Connect with faculty mentors, investing in students' scholarly futures.
  • Build a relationship with peer mentor who has previously participated in the program.

What is Community-Based Research?

Community-Based Research (CBR) is a partnership of students, faculty and community members who collaboratively engage in research to inform solutions for a pressing community problem, identify avenues to effect social change or evaluate program impact.

The research project is community-informed, collaborative and action-oriented. The philosophy underpinning this approach is that the community members are the experts and solutions to a social issue should be informed by the persons affected by the issue.