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.

Community-based research strives to be:

  • Community-situated: begins with a research topic of practical relevance to a community and is carried out in community settings.
  • Collaborative: community members and researchers share control of the research agenda through active and reciprocal involvement in the research design, implementation and dissemination.
  • Action-oriented: the process and results are useful to community members in making positive social change and to promote social equity. (Centre for Community-Based Research)

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. CBR fellows receive up to a $7,500 stipend for travel and living expenses.

  • 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. Graduating seniors are not eligible.

Get more details about a CBR Fellowship by reading the grant description and talking to program alums at a CBR Fellowship info session. 

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 the 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.