Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Projects with Promise

Vol. 28 No. 1

Rethinking the Field in Crisis: The Baltimore Field School and Building Ethical Community and University Partnerships

  • Nicole King
  • Tahira Mahdi
  • Sarah Fouts
April 27, 2022


This Projects With Promise case study offers insights for addressing tensions between universities and communities in building partnerships and collectively rethinking “the field” of community engagement. We explore moving beyond a solely place-based understanding of “the field” into an ethos based on human interactions and mutual trust. Through an analysis of the Baltimore Field School (BFS) project, we argue that partnerships must be designed to create the time and space for self-reflexive qualitative methods that emerge from a personality-proof and sustainable infrastructure that can respond to crises and needs in both communities and universities. Rethinking and even “undoing” notions of institutional time and space within universities allows community-centered reflection that begins to cross the boundaries imposed by neoliberal institutions focused on profits above people. Exploring the distinct scholarly communities of higher education can inspire academics to rethink how universities can work with and not just for local communities.