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Higher education community engagement has an emotional context, especially when it focuses on people who have been traumatized by oppression, exploitation, and exclusion. The emotional trauma may be multiplied many times when those people are also dealing with the unequally imposed consequences of disasters. This paper is based on interviews with residents of the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans who experienced various forms of higher education community engagement in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The results are surprising. First, residents most appreciated the sense of emotional support they received from service learners and volunteers, rather than the direct service those outsiders attempted to engage in. Second, residents did not distinguish between traditional researchers and community-based researchers, and perceived researchers in general as insensitive to community needs. The article explores the implications of these findings for preparing students and conducting research in any context involving emotional trauma.


File nameDate UploadedVisibilityFile size
19 Jul 2022
184 kB



  • Journal title
    • Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship

  • Volume
    • 9

  • Issue
    • 2

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022