The Community as Research Laboratory

By Roach, Ronald | Black Issues in Higher Education, June 10, 1999 | Go to article overview

The Community as Research Laboratory


Roach, Ronald, Black Issues in Higher Education


At Benedict College, the community and economic development ethos involves much more than just bricks, mortar, and finance. It also involves human development, particularly among African Americans.

In 1997, Benedict College established the Center of Excellence for Community Development (CECD) under the leadership of Dr. Sheila Ards. The center, according to Swinton, was established to conduct research projects in four areas -- educational excellence, child and family development, economic development, and democracy-building. The broad purpose of the center is to examine public policy issues that affect the African American community.

With Benedict-led community initiatives already underway, the center turned to Columbia's Black neighborhoods as its working laboratory. Welfare to-work initiatives and the establishment of the small business development/business incubator center represent two high-profile projects currently underway at the CECD. The research unit also works closely with the Benedict-Allen Community Development Corporation.

Ards proudly points out that women living in a nearby public housing project have received construction work training under the welfare-to-work program. …

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