"Public service is about listening intently to people and then observing, thinking, talking, and taking action. It's about doing something together that none of you could do on your own. Public service is exploration and affirmation."
- Leigh Van Horn, Interim Dean, College of Public Service
What is the Mission of the Center for Public Service and Community Research?
The mission of the Center for Public Service and Community Research is to initiate and develop collaborative partnerships with the community, to participate in active engagement and mutually beneficial problem solving, to advocate and effect positive change, and to facilitate community based research.
We value our faculty, students, and staff in Criminal Justice, Social Work and Urban Education and the community agencies, organizations, and institutions who are our partners.
What is the Vision of the Center for Public Service and Community Research?
The Center for Public Service and Community Research will incubate, facilitate, and promulgate systemic change through collaboration and community based research with our external stakeholders.
Why a Center for Public Service and Community Research?
During the time our students are with us and long after, they gain knowledge about theory, practice, and policy through hands-on community-based service. They learn to recognize and validate the resources that are already in place in the community and then work to build upon those assets, using the knowledge they have gained in their representative academic disciplines.
The CPSCR supports the growth of students, faculty, and staff through our authentic, academic and profession-based high impact experiences in community engagement, service learning, research, and internships.
Where is the Center for Public Service and Community Research?
The Center for Public Service and Community Research (CPSCR) is located in the College of Public Service at the University of Houston – Downtown. The Center is well-located in the heart of Greater Metropolitan Houston area giving students, faculty and staff easy access to a variety of community organizations, educational institutions, government agencies, and the businesses that make our community thrive.
What is Public Service?
To serve the public is to engage with the members of a community to render assistance, to be of use, to help, or contribute to, as in serving a cause.
Our faculty, students, and staff are currently engaged in a wide variety of public service projects based upon specific needs identified by our partners. Some are focused on education and service and others include the community partners in research.
To see a list of current projects, visit out Projects page.
What is Community Based Research?
Community based research (CBR) has its origins in Latin America with the work of Paulo Freire. Communities can be based in a geographic location or site. Communities can be centered in social or justice agencies, in schools, libraries, cultural centers, neighborhoods, and the like. The "community" in community-based research is representative of the people who work together to identify a common challenge or question. Communities can be self-defined by their participants.
CBR is a partnership that involves community members, representatives from organizations, and researchers in a recursive process of knowledge building, decision-making, action, and reflection.
In the College of Public Service and through the Center for Public Service and Community Research we partner with members of diverse communities, creating authentic, high-impact experiences for our students, staff, and faculty through community engagement, service, and community-based research.
What is Service Learning?
As defined at the University of Houston – Downtown, service learning is "A teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. Service learning aims to connect the personal and intellectual to help students acquire knowledge and a useful understanding of the world, build critical thinking capacities, and perhaps lead to fundamental questions about learning and about society and to a commitment to improve both."