Collaboratory FAQs

Thank you for your service to, and engagement in, our community. This document answers common questions. Please contact for more clarification, to get started, or just to chat! 

Common Questions

What is Collaboratory, anyway?

Collaboratory is community engagement tracking, designed to help universities understand, celebrate, and strategically adjust their activities by enabling reports on the who, what, where, when and why of activities designed with and for our community.

Why are we doing this?
  • As a comprehensive regional, metropolitan university, we have a responsibility to our community. In an effort to be more intentional about this part of our mission, we are pursuing Carnegie’s Elective Classification on Community Engagement. Capturing our engaged activities is a part of this process
  • Collaboratory supports our efforts in celebration, justification, connection, & modification
    • Celebration
      • Of you & your contributions to our students & our community
      • Of our partners’ contributions to our students
      • Of our students’ contributions to our community
      • Of our institutional contribution
        • For our strategic plan/blueprint efforts
        • For our Carnegie CE classification
        • For fundraising/development efforts
      • Justification
        • For institutional resources to support CE in terms of employee time and student opportunities
      • Connection
        • Too often, CE stakeholders on & off campus don't know of each other's efforts
      • Modification
        • Both extending and focusing our CE efforts
        • The more we know about what we do, the better we can assess how we can do it better and how we can encourage collaborative efforts for community good
Why are "activities" important?

Collaboratory organizes all data in Activities. These can be one-time or on-going

What activities should we include?

We want include all community engaged activities performed by University members (students, staff, and faculty) as a part or extension of their University role including both service and community engaged research

How do we define "engagement?"

Formally, engagement describes collaboration between USC Upstate and our larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources to address critical community issues in a context of partnership and reciprocity

Can "community" include our campus?
  • Yes, activities that happen on campus for pedagogical purposes are only considered 'community engaged' if they specifically and overtly seek significant involvement of non-campus individuals
  • Events with community/civic focus are 'community engaged' even if they primarily focus on our campus community
    • Example 1: Tutoring Upstate students for Upstate courses does NOT qualify
    • Example 2: A bipartisan "get out the vote" effort on campus DOES qualify
    • Example 3: Inviting a single community member to speak to your class does NOT qualify, but setting up a forum on an issue important to the community, recruiting community members as key contributors, and inviting the community as a whole to participate DOES qualify
How do we distinguish between personal and University-related engagement?
  • Consider the connection between your engagement and your role on campus
    • Example 1: A scientist who serves with a clean water project SHOULD report this, even if they are involved primarily because they are passionate about the health of the plant. This activity connects directly to their role on campus
    • Example 2: A marketing specialist who serves on the same project should ONLY report this activity if they contribute value from their marketing background (e.g. by crafting advocacy flyers), NOT if they volunteer to pick up trash from a river bank
  • Engagement in religious or political activities may be reported when the connections between one's University role and the activity are overt and clear. Do not include community engaged activities that primarily advocate for a political or religious position. That is, enter service to political and religious organizations only if the activity focuses primarily on the public good
    • Example 1: The scientist above would NOT enter serving as a greeter at their local mosque in Collaboratory
    • Example 2: The marketing specialist above WOULD enter service of using their skills to create flyers advertising a community awareness campaign for the same mosque
Are there any other activities that should NOT be included?

Do not include activities for which you are paid full value for your contribution

How can I get started?
We offer 3 ways to proceed:
  • Full Service: Email & we'll set up an appointment
  • DIY Option: Go to the Collaboratory website, log in with your Upstate credentials (upper right) & click on "Add Activities" (scroll down). Activities must be added manually. Bulk uploads are possible for community partners, faculty/staff, and courses. Student activity should be attached to faculty or staff
  • 50/50 Deal: Fill out at least the first 5 items in this Activity Capture Form, then email me. We'll enter your data into Collaboratory and make an appointment with you to finish up
How long will it take to enter my community engaged activities?
  • Expect to spend 20~30 minutes entering your first activity. You get faster as you learn what to expect
  • Appointments tend to run ~60 minutes as we engage in productive conversation in addition to entering activities