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Communities of Scholars Program

The Communities of Scholars (CoS) Program was launched by the Office of Research and Engagement as a way to encourage the growth of research affinity groups that cross disciplinary boundaries. Each CoS is composed of UT researchers from multiple departments, colleges, and/or units, united by a shared research theme or topic area, and organized to share research capabilities, assess collective research strengths, and explore opportunities for collaboration. Objectives of CoSs may include identifying funding opportunities relevant to the CoS and to move toward designation as an Organized Research Unit (ORU).

Current UT Communities of Scholars

UT’s Appalachian Community of Scholars will coordinate and conduct research and engagement throughout the Appalachian region to better understand its resources, people, culture, opportunities, and challenges and to help promote its equitable and sustainable development.

Faculty Contact: Tim Ezzell

UT’s Alzheimer’s Community of Scholars works to improve the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Examples of goals include the development of interdisciplinary interventions to assist in the enhancement of life of the person with AD, reduce the burden on the caregiver(s), develop policies and procedures for early detection of AD in high risk individuals, determine if there is an association with the exposome to the development of AD, and reduce the financial impact to the individual, state, and federal resources.

Faculty Contact: Karen Rose

The mission of the Cancer Community of Scholars is to enhance cancer prevention, early detection, and survival by cultivating and facilitating multidisciplinary partnerships in research, education, mentorship, and community outreach at the Medical Center, Institute of Agriculture, and the main campus of the University of Tennessee – Knoxville.

Faculty Contact: Steven Ripp

This CoS serves to inspire interdisciplinary collaboration, spark cross-campus creativity, build a community of practice, and raise the profile of digital scholarship support services on campus. Collaboration, networking, hands-on training, and cross-pollination among faculty, librarians, artists, technologists, and alternative academics are among the core work of this group, which seeks to advance arts, humanities, and social science research into new digital realms.

Faculty Contact: Rob Spirko

This CoS tackles complex issues of social justice by studying the intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality and other dimensions of social inequality. It seeks to establish the University of Tennessee as a nationally regarded center for scholarship and creative activity on this critically important area of social, political, and cultural research.

Faculty Contact: Patrick Grzanka
More Information: ICOS on Department of Psychology website

The Mindfulness Community of Scholars brings together faculty, administrators, staff and students across the campus who are interested in mindfulness research, practices, and pedagogy. This CoS seeks to draw on and expand upon the rapidly growing body of mindfulness research, practices, and pedagogy in order to increase mental health, physical well-being, and student wellness.

Faculty Contact: Kenton Yeager

Simulations + Gaming + Role-Playing (SGR) brings together members of the UT community who share an interest in researching the use of simulations, gaming, role-playing, and similar strategies for teaching and learning. Such strategies are among the latest developments in higher education, and have been shown to create interactivity and collaboration, increase engagement and retention, deepen reflection and understanding, engender positive values and thoughtful behavior, and open authentic spaces for real-world problem-solving.

Faculty Contact: Ryan Windeknecht

The goal of the Student Success COS is to bring together members of the campus community who have an interest in researching the many academic, social, economic, environmental, demographic, geographic, and institutional factors that contribute to student retention and success.

Faculty Contact: Sally McMillan

For more information on the Community of Scholars program, contact Diana Moyer at


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