Connecting with Community and Facilitating Learning through the Little Rock Congregations Study
Keywords:religion, higher education, community engagement, community-based research, collaboration
Places of worship play important roles as anchor institutions that promote community engagement and motivate political activity. Universities, particularly in urban settings, can also serve as anchor institutions that connect communities. Yet, there is often a gulf between the two, to the detriment of the broader community. In this article, we present the Little Rock Congregations Study (LRCS) as an approach to community engagement with faith-based organizations in an urban setting. This research project, based at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, involves an interdisciplinary team focused on understanding and improving the community engagement of congregations in the city of Little Rock since 2012. We present qualitative and quantitative data to illustrate the benefits of our approach, including research results returned to community organizations, greater visibility of the university in the community, student involvement in research and with faith-based organizations, and substantive findings that inform the greater body of knowledge and our own community. Through more than eight years of community-based work on the LRCS we provide six key lessons learned for researchers and students building relationships with religious leaders that can help bridge the gulf between these two key community institutions.
Adams, C. (2003). The meds and eds in urban economic development. Journal of urban affairs,25(5), 571-588. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9906.2003.00003.x
Alexander, A. (2000). Mentoring Schemes for Young People: Handbook and Training Guide. London: National Children’s Bureau.
Alexander, S. E., Clouse, C., & Austrian, Z. (2016). Thinking outside the Higher Education Box: Expanding upon the Economic and Community Development Roles of Urban Universities to Create a Win-win Situation. Economic Development in Higher Education, 1, 53-60.
Anderson, S. G. (2002). Engaging Students in Community-Based Research: A Model for Teaching Social Work Research. Journal of Community Practice, 10(2), 71-87. DOI:10.1300/J125v10n02_05
Austrian, Z., & Norton, J. (2005). An overview of university real estate investment practices. In D. C. Perry & W. Wiewel (Eds.), The University as Urban Developer (pp. 193-221). Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe.
Barr, S. (1963). The republic of letters: Town and gown. The Journal of Higher Education, 34(6), 301-310. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00221546.1963.11778606
Bartik, T. J., & Erickcek, G. (2007). Higher education, the health care industry, and metropolitan regional economic development: What can" Eds & Meds" do for the economic fortunes of a metro area's residents? Retrieved from Kalamazoo, MI DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17848/wp08-140
Beames, S., Higgins, P., & Nicol, R. (2012). Learning outside the classroom: Theory and guidelines for practice. New York: Routledge.
Birch, E., Perry, D. C., & Taylor Jr, H. L. (2013). Universities as anchor institutions. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 8(June), 7-16.
Blanchard, T. C. (2007). Conservative protestant congregations and racial residential segregation: Evaluating the closed community thesis in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties. American Sociological Review, 72(3), 416-433.
Boyer, E. L. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. Lawrenceville, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Boyte, H. C. (2014). Deliberative democracy, public work, and civic agency. Journal of Public Deliberation, 10(1), 15. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.16997/jdd.190
Brady, H. E., Verba, S., & Schlozman, K. L. (1995). Beyond SES: A resource model of political participation. American Political Science Review, 89(2), 271-294. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2082425
Breese, J. R. (2011). Sociology: A community engagement discipline. Journal of Applied Social Science, 5(1), 78-86. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/193672441100500106
Cantor, N., Englot, P., & Higgins, M. (2013). Making the work of anchor institutions stick: Building coalitions and collective expertise. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement (TEST), 17(3), 17-46.
Christerson, B., Edwards, K. L., & Emerson, M. O. (2005). Against all odds: The struggle for racial integration in religious organizations. New York: New York University Press.
Clergy Advisory Board. Little Rock Congregations Study Website. Retrieved from: https://research.ualr.edu/lrcs/about/clergyadvisoryboard/. Accessed August 29, 2020.
Clopton, A. W., & Finch, B. L. (2011). Re-conceptualizing social anchors in community development: utilizing social anchor theory to create social capital's third dimension. Community Development, 42(1), 70-83. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15575330.2010.505293
Cnaan, R. A., Boddie, S. C., & Yancey, G. I. (2003). Bowling alone but serving together: The congregational norm of community involvement. In C. E. Smidt (Ed.), Religion as social capital: Producing the common good (pp. 19-31). Waco, TX: Baylor University Press.
Cortes, A. (2004). Estimating the impacts urban universities on neighborhood housing markets: An empirical analysis. Urban Affairs Review, 39(3), 342-375. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1078087403255654
Dash, M. I. N., & Chapman, C. D. (2007). The Shape of Zion: Leadership and life in Black churches. Cleveland, OH: Wipf and Stock Publishers.
del Rio, E., & Loggins, J. (2019). Aligning Equity, Engagement, and Social Innovation in Anchor Initiatives. Metropolitan Universities, 30(1), 37–50. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18060/22377
Driskill, G. C., & Camp, J. (2006). The Nehemiah project: A case study of the unity movement among Christian church organizations in Central Arkansas. Journal of Communication and Religion, 29, 445-483.
Driskill, G. C., Arjannikova, A., & Meyer, J. (2014). A dialectic analysis of a community forum on faith: The “most segregated” or separated hour? Journal of Applied Communication Research, 42(4), 477-496.
Driskill, G. C., & Jenkins, J. (2019). The Most Integrated Hour in America: Reframing the Organizational Discourses of Church Purpose. Communication Studies, 70(4), 433-452.
Dubb, S., & Howard, T. (2007). Linking colleges to communities: Engaging the university for community development. College Park, MD: Democracy Collaborative, University of Maryland.
Feeding America. (2019). Map the Meal Gap: Food Insecurity in Arkansas. Retrieved from https://map.feedingamerica.org/county/2017/overall/arkansas
Food Pantries in Little Rock. Little Rock Congregations Study Website. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/1/viewer?ll=34.57747232086452%2C-92.47855138348967&z=10&mid=1OZQV5E1ATz_g2AFfvSFR2ir0nkHY2yWU. Accessed August 29, 2020.
Fraser, J. W. (2016). Between Church and State: Religion and Public Education in a Multicultural America: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Furco, A. (2010). The engaged campus: Toward a comprehensive approach to public engagement. British Journal of Educational Studies, 58(4), 375-390. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00071005.2010.527656
Glazier, R. A. (2015). Bridging Religion and Politics: The Impact of Providential Religious Beliefs on Political Activity. Politics and Religion, 8(3), 458-487. DOI: 10.1017/S1755048315000139
Glazier, R. A. (2018). Acting for God? Types and Motivations of Clergy Political Activity. Politics and Religion, 11(4), 760-797.
Glazier, R. A. (2019a). The Differential Impact of Religion on Political Activity and Community Engagement. Review of Religious Research, 1-26.
Glazier, R. A. (2019b). Little Rock Religious Leaders Summit: A Summary Report of the Little Rock Religious Leaders Summit held April 11th, 2019 at UA Little Rock Downtown. Little Rock, AR: University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Retrieved from: https://research.ualr.edu/lrcs/wp-content/uploads/sites/119/2019/04/Religious-Leaders-Summit-Summary-Report-Optimized.pdf, August 29, 2020.
Glazier, R. A., & Bowman, W. M. (2019). Teaching Through Community-Based Research: Undergraduate and Graduate Collaboration on the 2016 Little Rock Congregations Study. Journal of Political Science Education, 1-19.
Glazier, R. A., & Topping, M. P. (2020). Using Social Media to Advance Community-based Research. PS: Political Science & Politics, 1-5.
Goddard, J., Coombes, M., Kempton, L., & Vallance, P. (2014). Universities as anchor institutions in cities in a turbulent funding environment: vulnerable institutions and vulnerable places in England. Cambridge Journal of regions, economy and society, 7(2), 307-325.
Goldberg-Freeman, C., Kass, N., Gielen, A., Tracey, P., Bates-Hopkins, B., & Farfel, M. (2010). Faculty beliefs, perceptions, and level of community involvement in their research: a survey at one urban academic institution. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 5(4), 65-76. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/jer.2010.5.4.65
Gregerman, S. R., Lerner, J. S., von Hippel, W., Jonides, J., & Nagda, B. A. (1998). Undergraduate Student-Faculty Research Partnerships Affect Student Retention. The Review of Higher Education, 22(1), 55-72. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/rhe.1998.0016
Gullion, J. S., & Ellis, E. G. (2014). A pedagogical approach to action research. Journal of Applied Social Science, 8(1), 61-72. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1936724413476417
Harkavy, I. R., & Zuckerman, H. (1999). Eds and meds: Cities' hidden assets: Brookings Institution, Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy.
Harris, M., & Holley, K. (2016). Universities as anchor institutions: Economic and social potential for urban development. In M. B. Paulsen (Ed.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (pp. 393-439). Switzerland: Springer.
Hotze, T. (2011). Identifying the challenges in community-based participatory research collaboration. AMA Journal of Ethics, 13(2), 105-108.
Hudson, E. (2013). Educating for community change: Higher education’s proposed role in community transformation through the federal Promise Neighborhood policy. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 17(3), 109-138.
Hyland, S., & Maurette, K. (2010). Developing Poverty Reform Efforts In The Memphis Region: Lessons For An Engaged Anthropology. Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development, 39(3), 213-264.
Ishiyama, J. (2002). Does Early Participation in Undergraduate Research Benefit Social Science and Humanities Students? College Student Journal, 36(September).
Kuh, G. (Ed.) (1991). Involving Colleges: Successful Approaches to Fostering Student Learning and Development outside the Classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Martin, L. L., Smith, H., & Phillips, W. (2005). Bridging “town & gown” through innovative university-community partnerships. The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal, 10(2), 1-16.
Maurrasse, D. (2007). City anchors: Leveraging anchor institutions for urban success. Cleveland: CEOs for Cities.
McWilliam, C. L., Desai, K., & Greig, B. (1997). Bridging town and gown: Building research partnerships between community-based professional providers and academia. Journal of Professional Nursing, 13(5), 307-315. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S8755-7223(97)80109-3
Media Coverage. Little Rock Congregations Study Website. Retrieved from https://research.ualr.edu/lrcs/about/media-coverage/. Accessed August 29, 2020.
Milofsky, C., & Green, B. (2016). Re-Building Coal Country: A Church/University Partnership. Religions, 7(6), 75. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/rel7060075
Papa, M. J., Singhal, A., & Papa, W. H. (2006). Organizing for social change: A dialectic journey of theory and praxis. New Delhi, India: Sage.
Patterson, K. L., Silverman, R. M., Yin, L., & Wu, L. (2016). Neighborhoods of opportunity: Developing an operational definition for planning and policy implementation. Journal of Public Management & Social Policy, 22(3), 143.
Pender, M., Marcotte, D. E., Sto Domingo, M. R., & Maton, K. I. (2010). The STEM Pipeline: The Role of Summer Research Experience in Minority Students' Ph.D. Aspirations. Education policy analysis archives, 18(30), 1-36. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v18n30.2010
Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Putnam, R. D., & Campbell, D. E. (2012). American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Quick Facts. (2019). University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Retrieved from https://ualr.edu/administration/fast-facts/
Randall, R. (2017). How many churches does America have? More than expected. Christianity Today. Retrieved from https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/september/how-many-churches-in-america-us-nones-nondenominational.html
Riffin, C., Kenien, C., Ghesquiere, A., Dorime, A., Villanueva, C., Gardner, D., . . . Reid, M. C. (2016). Community-based participatory research: understanding a promising approach to addressing knowledge gaps in palliative care. Annals of palliative medicine, 5(3), 218. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21037/apm.2016.05.03
Russell, S. H., Hancock, M. P., & McCullough, J. (2007). Benefits of undergraduate research experiences. Science (Washington), 316(5824), 548-549.
Saguaro Seminar. (2009). Civic engagement and faith: Updates on the fifth meeting of the Saguaro seminar: Civic engagement in America and faith.
Steinacker, A. (2005). The economic effect of urban colleges on their surrounding communities. Urban Studies, 42(7), 1161-1175. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00420980500121335
Stoecker, R. (2012). Community-based research and the two forms of social change. Journal of Rural Social Sciences, 27(2), 6.
Strand, K. J. (2000). Community-based research as pedagogy. Michigan journal of community service learning, 7(1).
Strand, K., Marullo, S., Cutforth, N., Stoecker, R., & Donohue, P. (2003). Principles of best practices for community-based research. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 9(3), 5–15.
Thiry, H., Weston, T. J., Laursen, S. L., & Hunter, A.-B. (2012). The Benefits of Multi-Year Research Experiences: Differences in Novice and Experienced Students’ Reported Gains from Undergraduate Research. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 11(3), 260-272. DOI: 10.1187/cbe.11-11-0098
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service (2017). Food Access Research Atlas. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-access-research-atlas/go-to-the-atlas/
Copyright (c) 2020 Rebecca Glazier, Gerald Driskill, Kirk Leach
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.