A A Email Print Share

Community-Engaged Research

Community-engaged research is an approach to scholarship in which authentic partnerships between scholars and community organizations generate knowledge that is relevant to disciplinary discovery as well as application to community concerns in a local context. A community-engaged research study may use qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods. What characterizes community-engaged research is not the methods used, but the collaborative nature of the relationship between researchers (university and community-based researchers); the principles that guide the development of the inquiry; and use of its findings. Generally, the principles of community-engaged research include:

  • Collaborative, equitable partnerships in all phases of the research
  • Achievement of a balance between research and action for the mutual benefit of all partners
  • Emphasis on strengths and resources within the community
  • Promotion of co-learning and capacity building among all partners
  • Co-ownership of, and continued access to, data collected 
  • Dissemination of findings and knowledge via products of benefit to all parties

At Duquesne, we pay particular attention to building a more just and equitable world for those individuals who are disenfranchised and where the integrity of creation (including animals and the natural environment) is being devastated. Thus, an additional principle of community-engaged research at Duquesne University is its emphasis on social and environmental justice.

Current Community-Engaged Research Grant Recipients:

Awaken Within: A Mixed Methods Study of a Mindfulness-Based Professional Development Program in Multiple Educational Settings

Dr. Sandra Quiñones, Assistant Professor at the School of Education, is partnering with Dr. Stephanie Maietta Romero from Awaken Pittsburgh to conduct a mixed methods research project examining Awaken Pittsburgh’s mindfulness-based professional development program in multiple educational settings. Awaken Pittsburgh is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote personal and community wellbeing through mindfulness programs and compassionate actions.

Dr. Quiñones and Dr. Romero are interested in learning more about what it means to work with the whole system of an organization or institution to develop mindfulness practices. This research will provide information to local educational organizations of the potential benefits of mindfulness programming for educators and their students. Our approach is one where the researcher and the community partner are learning from the participants to tailor the professional development in a way that builds capacity and is beneficial to all parties. The aim is to develop a critical mass of educators with improved social and emotional competencies so that they can cultivate prosocial institutions, thus increasing the wellbeing and outcomes of students in their care.

Dr. Sandra Quiñones, Assistant Professor, School of Education


In partnership with Dr. Stephanie Maietta Romero, Awaken Pittsburgh

Project Synopsis

Reading to Play, Playing to Read

Reading to Play, Playing to Read is a community-engaged project that combines the learning goals of two Spanish courses: MLSP 302W-CE Composition and Conversation II taught by Dr. Lucía Osa-Melero and MLSP 280 Spanish for Health Professionals taught by Carmen Alicia Martínez. Students from both courses collaborate to develop a 4-week program on health awareness and illness prevention culture for 5-8-year-old Hispanic children, who recently immigrated to the US. Hispanic children attend Beechwood Elementary school in the Beechview neighborhood.

The present study plans to investigate vocabulary learning on a significant number of participants with the hope of obtaining generalizable results. To this end, we will use data collected during a pilot study on vocabulary learning that was conducted in 2017 and 2018 with two other colleagues, Dr. Nausica Marcos Miguel from Denison University and Mari Félix Cubas Mora from Slippery Rock University. Mari Félix worked as an adjunct professor in our department during Spring 2012. Both teach Spanish at the college level and are active researchers in the field of L2 vocabulary learning. We are positive that this collaboration not only strengthens the research rigor in our study, but also helps us, as new researchers in the field of L2 vocabulary learning, disseminate the results through national and international conferences. In addition, we will use brief oral interviews to focus on community members' perceptions of the program, especially on how the program affects parents' plans on their children future education.

Dr. Lucía Osa-Melero

Dr. Lucía Osa-Melero, Assistant Professor of Spanish, McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Dr. Carmen Martínez

Dr. Carmen Martínez, Adjunct Lecturer, McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Project Synopsis

Measuring the Impact of STEM-based Community-Engaged Learning on Duquesne Undergraduate Science Students and Pittsburgh Public School Students

There is an urgent need for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) qualified workers to meet current workforce demands. Unfortunately, traditional methods of training undergraduate science majors, with a focus on content acquisition, is insufficient for today’s needs. Instead, science students need a spectrum of skills including adaptability, complex communication skills, social skills, non-routine problem solving skills, self-management, self-development, and systems thinking. Community-engaged learning (CEL) is a high-impact practice that has the potential to foster many of these skills, but CEL is relatively rare in the natural sciences compared to disciplines such as nursing and education.

Drs. Sarah Woodley and Allyson O'Donnell will measure the impacts of community-engaged learning on “scientists-in-training” (i.e., science majors participating in Duquesne’s summer undergraduate research program), while at the same time contributing to science literacy of pre-college students from Pittsburgh Public School Systems (PPS). Through our program, known as the CIRCLE program (Connecting Interdisciplinary undergraduate Research with Community-engaged Learning Experiences), Duquesne summer undergraduate students will practice community-engaged learning by sharing science with Pittsburgh youth, in particular, minority youth, either by mentoring high school students in the laboratory or by sharing science activities with middle school-aged youth. The study will be done in collaboration with teachers from PPS and staff at the Center of Life in Hazelwood. We will measure outcomes of this community-engagement in all participants using mixed methods to create disciplinary discovery and inform community action.  


Dr. Sarah Woodley (PI), Associate Professor, Biological Sciences                                              


Dr. Allyson O'Donnell (Co-PI), Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences         

In partnership with the following community partners:


Joy Cannon, Academic Coordinator, Center of Life                                 


Dr. Janet R. Waldeck, Science Teacher, Pittsburgh Taylor Allderdice High School 


Terri Alessio, Teacher, Pittsburgh Taylor Alderdice High School

Dr. Edwina C. Kinchington, Science Teacher, Chair of the High School Science Department, Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy

The Other Side of the Story: Exploring the Experiences of Housing Choice Voucher Landlords as a way to Improve the Stability of Low-Income Households and Communities

This community-engaged research seeks to provide a set of best practices for landlords to use as a guide for working with low-income households and working with the Housing Choice Voucher program through the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh.

Anita Zuberi Headshot                                                         

Dr. Anita Zuberi, Assistant Professor, Sociology


In partnership with Gale Schwartz, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania                                                       

Also in collaboration with the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh.

Project Synopsis

Wise Women: an untapped community asset

This community-engaged research grant helped to lay the groundwork for a program of research and a larger scale application focused on improving Maternal-Child Health (MCH) in our region.  Currently, Dr. Appelt and Dr. Devido are seeking large scale funding to support the contiuation of this project.

2016-17 Year-End Community-Engaged Grant Report

September 2017 CIQR Presentation Power Point


 Jessica Devido, Assistant  Professor, School of Nursing


           Cathleen Appelt, Assistant Professor,             Sociology

In partnership with the following community investigators:

      Paul Abernathy

Paul Abernathy, Director, FOCUS Pittsburgh

            Terri Baltimore

Terri Baltimore, Director of Neighborhood Engagement, Hill House Association


Celeta Hickman, UJAMAA Collective

Honorary Community Partners

Kristina Abornathy, FOCUS Pittsburgh

Deborah Germany, Divine Intervention

About CER

Increasingly, Duquesne faculty are identifying a range of their scholarly activities as community-engaged, which includes research.

While there is variation in current terminology (public scholarship, scholarship of engagement, community-engaged research), engaged research is defined by the collaboration between academics and individuals outside the academy -- knowledge professionals and the lay public (local, regional/state, national, global) -- for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.

Community-Engaged Scholarship "redefines faculty scholarly work from application of academic expertise to ... that [which] involves the faculty member in a reciprocal partnership with the community, is interdisciplinary, and integrates faculty roles of teaching, research, and service." (New England Resource Center for Higher Education)

Read more about recent and current CER projects detailed in the Duquesne Magazine.

For Faculty

The Center for Community-Engaged Teaching and Research (CETR) currently supports faculty who are looking to develop CER projects in the following ways:

• Consulting on CER methods and publication/presentation venues
• Introducing faculty to potential CER community partners
• Convening faculty who self-identify as Community-Engaged Scholars.

To contact the director of the Center for CETR, , email or call 412-396-5893.


A number of scholarly associations and publication venues support CER. This list is not exhaustive. For more resources, please contact director of the Center for CETR,  at  or call 412-396-5893.

Engagement Scholarship Consortium: provides an association and annual meeting for engaged scholars.

Community Campus Partnerships for Health: provides many resources for health-based community-based participatory research

Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement: advances theory and practice related to all forms of outreach and engagement between higher education institutions and communities.

Journal of Public Scholarship in Higher Education: showcases the new disciplinary and/or pedagogical knowledge generated by engagement with the community.

Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship: promotes the centrality and importance of all persons involved in finding solutions to the problems addressed by engagement scholarship work.