Resources on methods and methodology for conducting community-based research and scholarship.

Data, Analytics and CBOs

Big data and analytics for community-focused nonprofits can improve analytic capabilities and increase impact. However, Community-based organization needs do not match well with conventional notions of data and analytics. Decentralized model for data-driven research may be preferred, but centralized model is dominant. CBOs can articulate data needs, but are often not yet able to access relevant data easily and use data effectively. Finally, certain values maximize impact of big data and analytics. Continue reading

Establishing and Evaluating Equitable Partnerships

In this paper, the authors present two models for establishing and evaluating partnerships. They also provide a working definition of a partnership, propose strategies for identifying resources for starting and maintaining partnerships, and provide several methods for evaluating them. Their purpose is to increase understanding of the dynamics of building stronger, more equity-based partnerships. Models recommended are the Give-Get and Double Rainbow. Continue reading

Participatory Research and Community Youth Development: VOICES in Sarasota County, Florida

This article reports a case study of community-based participatory action research conducted as a community youth development activity, demonstrating a trend toward engaging youth in youth development efforts. The project actively engaged middle school youth in their communities and offered an avenue through which they could contribute to matters of importance to them. Youth are presented as stakeholders in the research process. Concrete strategies for collaborating with youth are described and evaluated. Continue reading

The Crabby Creek Initiative: Building and Sustaining an Interdisciplinary Community Partnership

In this article, we identify the steps and strategies that emerged through an interdisciplinary, community-based participatory research (CBPR) project—the Crabby Creek Initiative. The Initiative was undertaken jointly by Cabrini College faculty in biology and psychology, the Valley Creek Restoration Partnership (VCRP), the Stroud Water Research Center, (SWRC) and local residents of this eastern Pennsylvania region. The paper examines the phases the partners have gone through and the strategies used as the building blocks of partnerships in the process of collaboration: trust, mutual design, shared implementation, joint ownership, and dissemination of knowledge, the building blocks of sustainable partnerships. Ultimately, the lessons learned have the potential to galvanize practitioners to engage not only in citizen science, but also more broadly in the practice of applied and engaged democracy. Continue reading

Reaching for a Radical Community-Based Research Model

This qualitative study contrasts two community-based research (CBR) projects. While the first project fell short of CBR goals, it influenced how the author carried out the second project, which did meet those goals. The two experiences enabled the author to create a conceptual model that can be used to structure and evaluate CBR projects for those who aspire to a more radical form of community-based research. Continue reading

Beyond Activity, Place, and Partner: How Publicly Engaged Scholarship Varies by Intensity of Activity and Degree of Engagement

Publicly engaged scholarship is often described by activity (e.g., service-learning; community-based, participatory research; public humanities), by place (e.g., rural communities, urban neighborhood), or by partner (e.g., non-governmental organization, school). These common descriptors—based on what faculty do, where they do it, and with whom they partner—fail to characterize how faculty members collaborate with community partners in engaged research, engaged teaching, and engaged service. This study explored whether two process-oriented constructs—level of activity and degree of engagement—were useful descriptors of how faculty members go about their scholarly collaborations with the public. Interpretive content analysis of 173 promotion and tenure forms revealed significant differences in intensity of activity and degree of engagement by gender, race, age, teaching assignment, joint departmental appointment, appointment length, Extension appointment, and discipline. These variations suggested new directions in professional development for community engagement and appointments/assignments supportive of faculty involvement in publicly engaged scholarship. Continue reading

Theoretical and Applied Perspectives on Power: Recognizing Processes That Undermine Effective Community-University Partnerships

Interrelational power dynamics are intimately connected to the success of any relationship and are especially critical in developing and sustaining mutually beneficial, reciprocally engaged partnerships. This work analyzes how elements of power impact the negotiation of engagement in community-university partnerships. Although this piece is a general theoretical account of power, it indicates very specific implications for community partners. A hypothetical example is used to contextualize distinct power challenges that confront community partners and faculty members during the engagement process. Specific attention is given to how organizational structure, the academic calendar, and the creation of knowledge influence produced understandings of differentials in power and differentials in need. The paper concludes with a discussion of three applied strategies that can be used to neutralize differentials in power and recognize differentials in need associated with the development of community-university partnerships. The theoretical language of differentials in power and differentials in need will arm practitioners with analytical tools to shape more meaningful partnerships. Continue reading

Partnership Process Guidelines: Social Work Perspectives on Creating and Sustaining Real-World University-Community Partnerships

The authors, representing community practitioners, faculty, students, and administration, collaborated to produce guidelines for university-community partnerships that reflect social work’s commitment to social justice in practice, education, and research. The respective experiences and voices of the authors contribute to a wider perspective on the explicit social justice implications of partnership formation for community-based participatory research, which is a vision shared by many disciplines. These guidelines introduce a communication outline that may augment the creation and maintenance of thriving university-community partnerships across multiple disciplines that promote social justice. Continue reading

A Five-Step Model for “Unconventional Engagement”

Why subject third graders to the scrutiny of scholars at an academic conference? As one example of “unconventional engagement,” The Oakdale Eagle, a newsletter established in 2011 as a result of a partnership initiated by a local elementary school, demonstrates the value of higher education responding to a call from the community. Not associated with a service-learning class or academic research but involving college students amd faculty from The University of Alabama and Stillman College, this partnership exemplified the power of volunteerism and community service. The highlight occurred when third graders, who were among the first to write stories for The Oakdale Eagle, made a presentation at the 2012 National Outreach Scholarship Conference in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In addition to contrasting conventional and unconventional community engagement, this article charts the five steps in a unique community-initiated partnership. Continue reading

The Power of Stories to Build Partnerships and Shape Change

This essay reflects on the power of storytelling and narrative in a collaborative partnership that engaged undergraduate pre-service English as Second Language (ESL) candidates and their professor with local ESL high school teachers, immigrant and refugee students, and their families. It describes how undergraduate students worked with teachers and students to collect stories and publish a multilingual book about their journeys, memories of home, and transitions into their new life in the United States. This project and the resulting self-published book, which was shared at several community and public events, exemplify the fundamentals of reciprocal and transformative partnerships. The nature and importance of such partnerships are examined, including recommendations for similar undertakings, and a discussion about how the book students and families were empowered by sharing their voices. It closes by examining how the book became a tangible means to transcend the initial partnership and to promoting new understandings and relationships through sustained community engagement. Continue reading