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    Community-Engaged Research

    What is Community-Engaged Research?

    In broad terms, community-engaged research is research that invests the pursuit of knowledge in the public good.  While there are a number of definitions and forms of community-engaged research, some core defining characteristics include: 

    1) Researchers use a collaborative approach in which non-academic communities are equitable thought partners and in some cases co-researchers.  Research is conducted with, rather than on, the community.  Most centrally, communities most impacted by an issue identify the needs or questions addressed by the research project.

    2) Researchers aim to integrate knowledge and action.  This means both directing learning and inquiry to actionable knowledge -- that which can lead to desired social change -- and disseminating research findings in ways that aim to mobilize or inform collective action.


    What are the overarching principles of CBR?

    • CBR acknowledges the importance of community
    • CBR builds on the strengths and resources of the community and community members
    • CBR is a collaborative, equitable, power-sharing process that attends to social inequalities
    • CBR fosters co-learning and capacity building among all partners
    • CBR balances the quest for knowledge with the quest for community wellness
    • CBR insists upon the local relevance of research problems 
    • CBR is iterative, reflective, and self-updating
    • CBR involves all partners in the dissemination and utilization of research findings
    • CBR is committed to building sustainable, mutually beneficial community partnerships

    (see Israel et al., 2003)


    2017-2018 Exemplary Achievement in Community-Engaged Research Award


    This award honors a faculty member who has applied the knowledge of their discipline and their own expertise to the public good through community-engaged research. Recipients of this award engage in research that is co-created with and benefits communities and/or community-based organizations, and the knowledge produced by the research is indirectly or directly actionable toward social change.

    Recipient: Gail Murphy-Geiss; Associate Professor & Associate Chair (Sociology), Title IX Coordinator

    Excerpt from Gail's nomination:


    Gail leverages half-block courses each year to engage students in ongoing community-engaged research projects with two partners: Planned Parenthood of the Rockies, and the El Paso County Dependency and Neglect Courts. Additionally, she is committed to promoting community-engaged research methodologies to students, integrating the teaching of these methods into the sociology research course. In addition to explicitly discussing community-engaged research, she integrates an orientation toward applied research into the entire curriculum. She embodies the goals of CER by being collaborative, humble, and applied.

    What makes a successful CBR partnership?

    • A shared worldview
    • General agreement about project goals and strategies
    • Mutual trust and mutual respect
    • Shared decision-making
    • Careful communication and close listening
    • Mutual empathy
    • A long-range perspective

    (see Strand et al, 2003)


    How is CBR different from traditional research?

     

    Traditional research

    CBR

    Primary goal

    Advance disciplinary knowledge

    Contribute to community wellness

    Source of research question

    Academic literature

    Community-identified problem

    Research designer

    Trained outside expert

    Campus and community collaboration

    Role of community

    Object to be studied

    Collaborator, partner and learner

    Role of students

    Recipients of textbook knowledge or research assistants

    Collaborators, partners, and learners

    Relationships between faculty and community

    Short-term, task-oriented, detached

    Long-term, multifaceted, connected

    Measure of value

    Acceptance by academic peers (e.g. Tier 1 publication)

    Usefulness for community

    Criteria for method selection

    Conformity to standards of academic rigor

    Balance between rigor, utility, and sensitivity

    Beneficiaries

    Faculty and discipline

    Faculty, discipline, students, community

    Ownership of findings

    Faculty

    Collective

    (based on Strand et al, 2003)