The Center for Family and Community Engagement (CFACE) is thrilled to announce our latest faculty partnership with Dr. Kwesi Craig C. Brookins. Dr. Brookins is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Africana Studies at North Carolina State University, where he has graduated over 25 doctoral students. In addition to this, he is the founder and former director of the Africana Studies Major and Minor programs, was a 2018-19 American Council on Education Fellow, leads the NCSU-Wake Community-University Partnership, a former Engagement Scholarship Fellow with the University Office for Outreach and Engagement, and so much more. Dr. Brookins’ research uses community-based participatory approaches and increasingly involves interdisciplinary teams from across campus. His current research interests involve Community-University Partnerships, Community-based interventions, and Sociopolitical Consciousness.
Moreover, Dr. Brookins entire research, teaching, and service career has been grounded in community engagement. He is excited to connect his research and engagement projects to CFACE, and believes CFACE is well positioned to grow community engagement and engagement scholarship within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Due to the complexity of community issues, engagement scholarship is inherently interdisciplinary. Our partnership with Dr. Brookins opens the door to more opportunities to work with researchers across campus, which will contribute to the broader community engagement mission of the university as a whole.
When asked what he believes the benefits of community engagement are, Dr. Brookins stated,
Community engagement is a fundamental responsibility of a land grant university. In exchange for the public support of our institution, the university is expected to direct its intellectual and research assets to address needs and opportunities in partnership with communities across the state. In addition, most community engagement research requires an interdisciplinary focus. Thus, it helps get faculty out of the typically siloed nature of the university and provides expanded opportunities for collaboration and research funding. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, incorporating community engagement into the teaching of undergraduate and graduate students is a proven high-impact learning practice. It enhances students’ academic experiences by connecting them to what I like to call real issues in real places.
Dr. Brookins believes there is an opportunity for the university to become more intentional about how it engages as an anchor institution in the city and county. An anchor institution is one that is tied to its local community, is not going anywhere, and has huge economic, cultural, and political influence on the area by virtue of the people it attracts and employs, the products and services it purchases, and quite literally the space it occupies.
Faculty and students have a huge role to play in how the university embraces it’s anchor responsibility. Dr. Brookins believes CFACE can lead that effort. Given Dr. Brookins status with the university, he is well positioned to gain the attention and interest of faculty, staff, and students. This brings more perspectives, collaborations, and a variety of research opportunities to CFACE.
In addition to his work with the Center, Dr. Brookins currently leads the university efforts to implement the memorandum of understanding (MOU) established with the Wake County Office of Social and Economic Vitality. The initiative is entitled the Wake Community-University Partnership (WakeCUP) and is designed to leverage the intellectual resources of NC State in service of community-identified needs in two engagement zones in Wake county: Southeast Raleigh and Eastern Wake. Additionally, another community-based project in Western North Carolina is currently in a transitional ending stage. The Southeast Equine Research and Education Partnership was an interdisciplinary (H&SS, CNR, COD) study designed to determine how the equine assets of the Isothermal region of the state could be used to create inclusive economic opportunities. Their final report was submitted this past spring and they are now working on how to better connect NC State researchers to the identified opportunities in agricultural sciences, tourism, and equine-assisted learning and therapy.
We are incredibly excited to work with Dr. Brookins, and look forward to the immense wealth of knowledge and expertise he brings to the table. This partnership will assist CFACE in our growing efforts to build more connections throughout our communities. With Dr. Brookins help, we will be able to develop stronger interdisciplinary partnerships, and therefore engage our communities in more meaningful ways.
Dr. Brookins hobbies include photography, home brewing (beer and wine), and he is an aspiring gardener. For more information on Dr. Brookins, please visit his faculty/staff bio.