Community-Based Research Fellowship


Community-based research (CBR) combines community knowledge and university knowledge to address global issues through actionable research. The Buffett Institute's CBR fellows apply their Northwestern education to real-world issues and collaboratively produce findings to support the sustainability of community-driven initiatives.

The work of CBR fellows is important to:

  • Provide insights to communities and partner organizations by figuring out what works and why
  • Document community experiences, test assumptions, and provide guidance for future practice
  • Ensure outcomes achieve developmental objectives of partnering organizations

Award details

Students may apply to perform research with a pre-­approved global partner or may propose research with a global partner outside of the Buffett partnership network.

  • You may work with a pre-approved global partner. Research topics range from environmental studies and health care systems to gender studies and microfinance, and more. 
  • If you'd like to submit your own proposal, read these application tips.

This fellowship is open to undergraduates from all academic disciplines with prior field experience. CBR fellows receive up to $7,500 for travel, living expenses, and stipend. 

Chris as a CBR Fellow with community members in Uganda“Being a CBR Fellow was the highlight of my time at Northwestern. Learning can happen in a classroom in Evanston and also in a village in rural Uganda. Community members became my teachers and their stories my textbooks....So often undergraduate students feel like they cannot make a difference, but I came away from my summer as a CBR Fellow feeling just the opposite.”

Learn more about Chris Harlow's experience as a CBR fellow in Uganda in 2015.

Requirements upon admission

  • Enroll in spring quarter course, INTL_ST_390-­‐0 Special Topics in International Studies: Community-­Based Partnership Research in International Development
  • Participate in spring quarter biweekly supplemental training meetings with CBR Fellow cohort
  • Spend at least 6 weeks in-­country to perform the duties associated with research. Exact dates will be determined in conversation between CBR fellow and partner organization.
  • Secure a research advisor/mentor, and maintain communication with adviser throughout research process. Your research adviser/mentor will serve as your Principal Investigator (PI) for the Northwestern Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval process.
  • Commit to ongoing communication with Buffett Institute staff while abroad through biweekly progress reports
  • Provide partner organization, community members involved in research process, and Buffett Institute staff with final report and presentation on all collected data, observations, and findings

Application details

All applicants must complete an application on FluidReview and submit a faculty letter of recommendation by February 1, 2018.

If your proposed research partner is not a pre‐approved Buffett global partner you must additionally submit:

  • 2‐page proposal introducing partner organization and outlining research
  • Letter from your proposed partner organization supervisor outlining scope of research and partnership


If you would like to discuss if your proposed collaborative research qualifies for this grant, or if you have questions, please contact Emory Erker-Lynch at or 847-­467-5728.