In the fall of 1989, two Trent University professors conducted an experiment that matched researchers, mostly senior undergraduate and graduate students, with community organizations, that lacked the capacity to conduct research. The course called Bioregionalism, immersed fourth-year undergraduate students in the ecological, cultural and economic development of the surrounding region while completing research projects in the Haliburton Highlands. In 1995, a similar approach more actively involving a Peterborough-based community economic development agency in co-supervising the students’ research was undertaken. Encouraged by the success of these experiments, three organizations partnered to establish the Trent Centre for Community-Based Education (TCCBE) in 1996.
These original partners were the Frost Centre at Trent University, Peterborough Social Planning Council and Community Opportunity & Innovation Network (COIN). The TCCBE became an ongoing mechanism for students, faculty and local organizations to pool their resources and work together on community-inspired research projects that enhance the social, environmental, cultural or economic health of our community.
In 1999, U-Links Centre for Community-Based Research (U-Links) was established in Haliburton County, an organization based on the same community-university partnership model. In 2001 the TCCBE and U-Links formalized their partnership in delivering what is now known to Trent University students and faculty as the Community-Based Education (CBE) Program. This partnership between the TCCBE, U-Links and Trent University continues to flourish today in the joint delivery of the CBE Program.
In 2004, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation granted the TCCBE $985,000 over five years to expand the services offered to include other types of service learning and experiential education opportunities, and to incorporate as an independent not-for-profit organization.
In late 2008, the TCCBE launched a new service called the Strategic Research Initiative (SRI) – a service aimed at involving faculty in research projects…often beyond the scope of what a student might accomplish for academic credit. Of course, the SRI presents a new way for students to get involved with the CBE Program too!
In the spring of 2011, the Community-Links Centre for Community-Based Projects and Social Mapping (C-Links) was created in the City of Kawartha Lakes (CKL). This organization is also an independent facilitator of community/post-secondary projects. C-Links is delivering the CBE program in CKL – the third local region for the program!