UC Merced’s purposeful location in the San Joaquin Valley and nearby Sierra Nevada, a region characterized by disadvantages in the environment, economics, education, health, and civic engagement, invites this academic program that focuses on ways to transform poverty into prosperity. Addressing the complexity of local, regional and global poverty requires the knowledge and problem solving strategies from diverse academic fields. This minor highlights the role of community-engaged research (CEnR), an approach to problem solving based on academic-community collaboration. Problem solving through CEnR leads to both scholarly and community benefits.
CEnR skills developed in the Community Research and Service (CRS) minor complement training provided in all academic majors. Students can apply the concepts and research methods they have learned in engineering, natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, or arts to improving the quality of life locally, regionally, and more broadly. The following three themes define the minor.
- Analytics of Prosperity: understanding data and using scientific measures to ensure that our activities actually improve quality of life
- Sustainability: taking environmentally, economically, and socially sound approaches to growing prosperity, and
- Community-engaged innovation: identifying new problems and solving old problems in new ways via collaboration that values local knowledge.
CRS coursework and field experiences engage students in these themes while working with non-profit, government, and industry partners on real-life problems in the San Joaquin Valley and nearby Sierra Nevada. Problems within these regions often have analogues in other national and international emerging economies, which may facilitate collaboration and training opportunities outside UC Merced’s region. Central to the CRS minor is an experience that provides students with practical research and collaborative problem solving that is intended to enhance professional development including skills that are sought out by professional and community leaders.