Community Engaged Research Coalition (CERC)


The mission of Community Engaged Research Coalition (CERC) is purpose-driven community engagement for mutual benefit. CERC partners and extends academic research for community empowerment and advancement.


Illinois Tech Community-Engaged Research Coalition brings together faculty whose research, teaching and practice aim to positively impact the lives of individuals, particularly communities of color on the South and West sides of Chicago.

Community-Engaged Research is “a framework or approach for conducting research… [that] encourages recognition of the strengths of community institutions and individuals and encourages people and groups to build on those strengths. What characterizes community-engaged research is not the methods used, but the principles that guide the research and the relationships between researchers and the community. Community-engaged research requires partnership development, cooperation and negotiation, collaboration with community partners and a commitment to addressing local health issues.” 

The coalition aims to be a home for 

  1. Creating positive impact on the communities surrounding Illinois Tech through community-engaged research.
  2. Establishing and building authentic, transparent and trusting relationships with community organizations for conducting mutual research in partnership communities.
  3. Gathering and sharing human, financial, knowledge resources within the Illinois Tech community and with community partners to conduct community-engaged research and design (e.g., citizen science, co-design), equitably benefiting internal and external partners.
  4. Building capacity among researchers, students and community partners for conducting this type of research, emphasizing skills in design, STEM and innovation/entrepreneurial thinking.
  5. Promoting the impact and importance of inclusive community-engaged research, in particular demonstrating how this type of research and scholarship can be factored into promotion and tenure for faculty.

CERC Programming

The coalition hosts a quarterly seminar series that showcases the community-engaged research of Illinois Tech faculty, students, and staff, along with research activities and ideas of community partners. 

The coalition also explores research grant opportunities for pursuing this research across disciplines, including architecture, business, computing, design, engineering, humanities and sciences. The core faculty members in the coalition have interests and expertise in:

  1. Ingestion and inhalation pathways - quantifying how different groups are exposed to contaminants and harm-causing materials in Food, Water, Air, in order to develop technology and behavioral innovations that reduce those harms and improve the quality of life of individuals.
  2. Co-design for community well-being, focused on key infrastructures and economic development activities, e.g., food/urban agriculture, renewable energy/electrification, entrepreneurship/finance.
  3. Media, public perceptions, behavioral nudges - identifying effects of racism in the digital sphere and real worlds, examining linkages between the two, in order to bridge the communication gap among disconnected publics, foster consensus building, and design impactful policies and programs.