The Research Mission of the Center for Social Concerns at the University of Notre Dame is to identify, analyze, and share the evolving ways that service-learning and related educational experiences contribute to college student development and to the efforts of students, faculty, and community constituents toward the creation of a more just and humane world.
The Center’s basic and applied research examines the dynamic processes that shape student development in moral and civic responsibility, leadership, ethics, and faith. Through multi-disciplinary approaches, we seek to understand, in particular, what motivates service and social action; what sustains civic engagement over time; the impacts of community-based learning on student knowledge, attitudes, behavior, and moral commitment; and students’ broad understanding of vocation.
The Center communicates research findings and best practices by means of a Research Report Series, scholarly and general papers, public presentations, and via internet formats. In addition, we host and actively participate in higher education conferences.
PROGRAM EVALUATION & RESOURCE SHARING
Center programs are evaluated both internally and through external review. Our research methods employ survey instruments that measure the impacts of Center programs on student learning by examining beliefs, attitudes, and expertise both prior and following their experiences. The Center also assists university administrators and faculty to measure developmental factors on students’ lives and shares data, instruments, references, and expertise.
FACULTY, STUDENT, AND COMMUNITY COLLABORATION
The Center facilitates selected research projects with off-campus collaborators, with particular interest in addressing local community needs. The Center, through the generosity of Rodney F. Ganey, Ph.D., funds faculty-student-community research projects and community-based research awards for faculty of the University. With the support of Sue Olin and Ed Enderle, the Center also offers course development grants to faculty members desiring to incorporate community-based research into their class offerings. Center data are made available to interested faculty at Notre Dame, for their own work or that of their students, and we offer assistance to students in developing hypotheses and carrying out course-related analyses with our data. Collaborative projects with individuals having similar research interests from other institutions of higher education are welcomed.