The Brooklyn Public Scholars Project: The Community-engaged Campus & Civic Research builds the capacity of Kingsborough Community College to engage with the critical issues facing our students and working-class urban immigrant communities.  BPS supports community-based teaching and engaged scholarship to study and teach critical urban issues relevant to our students’ lives, including public education, immigration, poverty, civil rights and inequality, gentrification, food sustainability, and climate change, among others.

In just two years (2012-2014), nineteen faculty members transformed their courses, reaching over 1,200 students just as Kingsborough implemented its new civic engagement graduation requirement.  BPS members created a new Faculty Interest Group (FIG) to help other KCC faculty grapple with what it means to integrate civic engagement into their courses.

Cultivating new opportunities for ‘studying abroad in your own backyard,’ BPS focuses on teaching and research projects that engage student’s lives with Brooklyn’s communities. The project builds upon faculty members’ research projects and interests to develop strategic partnerships with community organizations for civically engaged scholarship.

The BPS Project also supports the development of courses that help students build on their strengths and develop the necessary skills to address issues affecting their lives and communities. More than half of Kingsborough’s students were born outside of the U.S. and most speak another language in addition to English. Our campus is in one of the most diverse counties in the United States and many of our students are already deeply involved in their communities. Centering classroom inquiry on these strengths, the BPS project provides a framework for designing community-based research projects as links between the academy and social justice struggles. It demonstrates how engaged scholarship can open up intercultural dialogues vital to democracy and sustain the heart, passion, and moral responsibility of higher education in desperately unequal times.

   Highlights of the “Brooklyn’s Public Scholars” project include:   
  • Public Scholarship Faculty Seminar: An interdisciplinary, critical intellectual space for Kingsborough faculty to engage with the theory and practice of community-engaged scholarship and teaching. Faculty participants discuss and develop new approaches to conducting research in their classrooms and piloting new student-centered course offerings.
  • Research and Publications: Fifteen BPS members are writing essays for a book, Civic Engagement Pedagogy in the Community College: Theory and Practice, to be published by Springer Publishing in 2015. BPS faculty members also publish and present at conferences in their own disciplines and relevant civic engagement convening.
  • Public Scholarship Events: These include Faculty Forums; thematic days of learning, such as Immigration Day; campus-wide participatory events such as Eco-Fest; performances; workshops, and community happenings. These promote exciting collaborations among Kingsborough faculty, students and local organizations.
  • Building Networks and Outreach: The Brooklyn Public Scholarship Map makes visible Kingsborough’s network of community relationships throughout the borough. Accessible on the Kingsborough website, this interactive multimedia online map allows visitors to click on geo-coded profiles of projects to find out more about organizations, student work, and faculty research.
  • Community Partnerships: BPS cultivates strong and sustainable relationships with community partners, seeking to bring together resources for reciprocal learning, action and research between Brooklyn community-based organizations and Kingsborough. Faculty members continue to develop new relationships with community organizations that intersect with their research agendas and support community-engaged teaching.


Brooklyn’s Public Scholars is being funded by the Bridging Theory to Practice Project in partnership with the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U), which selected Kingsborough as a national Campus Demonstration Site for 2012-2014. The project, which will engage an innovative participatory approach for assessing how students engage with, transform, and are transformed by their involvement with public scholarship, is a partnership between Kingsborough Community College, the Graduate Center of CUNY,  and the Public Science Project.

For more information please contact Debra L. Schultz, Department of History and BPS Project Director for Kingsborough Community College at debra.schultz@kbcc.cuny.edu.


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