Community-Based Research (CbR) 


The Steans Center assists faculty and students in the development and implementation of research projects created in collaboration with community partners. We assist with development of research projects, integration of research into curriculum, IRB applications, as well as provide research assistants.  Interested faculty should also consider the Community-based Research Faculty Fellowship that supports faculty in a year-long research project that involves their students.




Community-based Research Faculty Fellowship


The Steans Center for Community-based Service Learning will award up to three Community-based Research Faculty Fellowships for the 2015-2016 academic year. Each Fellow receives a $3,000 stipend, a funded research assistant for three consecutive terms, and financial support to present at an academic conference in the U.S.  Indirect costs are not awarded. 

Fellowship can be proposed by any full-time DePaul University faculty member who seeks to conduct research in partnership with one or more community-based organization and who incorporates undergraduate and/or graduate student research linked to a course (minimum 1 course during the fellowship year). All projects must in some way aim at improving the quality of life for residents of Chicago and must be driven by the interests of one or more DePaul community partner.  Fellowship applications are encouraged from any topic area. The call for proposal will be distributed during Winter Quarter.



CbR Faculty Fellow-Dr. Lisa Dush - 2011-2012


Lisa Dush is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse at DePaul University, where she teaches courses in new media studies and professional writing. Much of Lisa's teaching and research is built around efforts to partner students with Chicago-area nonprofit organizations, to together develop and deploy new media projects. During academic year 2011-2012, Lisa Dush initiated a research project designed to explore how personal, digital stories can prompt social action. Dr. Dush and her students partnered with Chicago International Charter School (CICS) and created a Digital Stories in Organizations Workshop in which students taught school parents and teachers how to produce digital stories that express their values about and priorities for education.


In December 2014, Dush published the article Building the Capacity of Organizations for Rhetorical Action with New Media: An Approach to Service Learning” in Computers and Composition: An International Journal. The article describes two service-learning courses that Dush teaches at DePaul. She articulates a pedagogy of teaching students and nonprofit staff side-by-side, so that the students learn about the challenges of telling organizational stories in nonprofit settings, and nonprofit staff members build skills and know-how that will allow them to produce their own media in the future. The article explores how organizations can integrate new technologies into their work and how universities can play a role in helping organizations and their staff to learn and to evaluate these technologies.


I teach writing and new media production,” says Lisa Dush, “and in my field, "service learning" very often means having students do a client project. That is, a writing or digital writing class will partner with a nonprofit that needs a new website, promotional video, or brochure, and working much like consultants, the students will make that website, video, or brochure for the organization. In a lot of cases, that relationship is fine and valuable. But it also doesn’t necessarily teach students much about the challenges of creating new media or telling organizational stories in nonprofit settings, and it certainly doesn’t build the partner organizations’ capacity to do future writing or new media projects without student assistance. I was curious, given that there are so many new technologies and platforms that will in theory allow organizations to make their own media, whether I might connect my students with organizational staff and basically teach the students and organizational staff all together, with the aim to build organizations' capacity to do their own writing and media production projects in the future.”


Dush says “writing this piece allowed me to articulate a pedagogy that is replicable: that is, while the article focuses on two iterations of a course with the same title, “Digital Storytelling in Organizations,” I was able to later use the pedagogy I'd described to teach another service-learning course focused on different technologies, called “Multimedia Content Strategy." I hope the ideas in the article can likewise help other teachers of writing and multimedia composition to enact pedagogies that are different from the client project model that's so prevalent.”

The impact on her students has been substantial: “I think a lot of my MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse and MA in NMS students have misconceptions about what it’s like to work in a nonprofit, that it’s somehow less professional work than working for a for-profit business. I enjoy connecting them with the smart and talented staff at our nonprofit partner organizations, which does open some of their minds to careers as nonprofit communicators.”


Dr. Dush believes that the partnership gave community partners not just a product -- a digital story or digital stories to use in their work -- but also training that developed technical, writing, and ethical aptitudes necessary to make more of these stories in the future. 


Finally, Dush notes "this project is a small but important part of my larger research agenda, which explores how nonprofit and public sector organizations can responsibly and sustainably use new media stories and storytelling in their work. Right now, I’m working on a project that organizes and shares the range of cause-based storytelling via an online database, at”


For more information on the CbR fellowship contact: Jeffrey Howard,



The Women and Gender Research Initiative Faculty Fellowship


The Women and Gender Research Initiative was established in 2002 to promote community-based programs and research that inform the prevention of, and intervention in, gender-related oppressions. The Initiative advances collaborative work between DePaul faculty, students, and community members to effect social change through a focus on social policy, advocacy, and community development. The Initiative also is committed to documenting, collecting, and making public the contributions of individuals whose lives reflect previously untold experiences and undocumented resilience. The Women and Gender Research Initiative, in collaboration with the Steans Center, annually invites proposals for a faculty fellowship. What makes proposals competitive?


  • Community-focused in nature and community based in implementation

  • Integration into course curriculum and student involvement in research

  • Commitment to research using feminist frameworks


For proposal instructions for the Women and Gender Research Initiative Faculty Fellowship, please visit

Beck Research Fellowship


For more information contact: Beth Catlett



Community-based Research Assistant Program


As research oriented courses require a significant investment of faculty time in developing research projects in collaboration with community-based organizations, the Community-based Research Assistant Program (CbR) provides faculty with the support of a student assistant. The program seeks to support faculty as they build long term relationships with community organizations, generate research questions and activities in collaboration with community partners, and disseminate research findings in ways that benefit communities and enrich scholarly discourse about social justice issues.


For more information on developing a course with CbR contact 

Howard Rosing