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Community Engagement in Higher Education Institutions

Community Engagement in Higher Education Institutions

Category: Project
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The Indian leg of the UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education recently completed a project titled ‘Community Engagement in Higher Education Institutions’. Funded by the British Council, the project covered the states of Punjab, Bengal, Assam and Karnataka. Here, the UNESCO Chair partnered with Punjab University (PU), North Bengal University (NBU), Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati (IIT-G) and Jain University (JU)’ Bangalore, respectively. With the help of these institutions, the Chair conducted a survey on the current practices of community engagement in the HEIs of all the 4 states. This resulted in the production of the first of its kind database on this subject, which shed light on the current scenario and helped to plan for future activities. The survey brought out some very interesting results, which showed good promise for pursuing this area of work in the future. While the Biotechnology Department at NBU engaged with the local agricultural community in a mutually beneficial manner, the students at IIT-G through various innovative projects engaged in some form of ‘service-learning’. Karnataka’s community radio ‘Radioactive’ emerged as applying a tripartite approach to engagement which combined participatory research, citizen voice and community campus partnerships. This mapping exercise was followed by workshops/conferences on ‘Community Engagement in HEIs’ in each of the states. The workshops provided an opportunity to brainstorm on the survey results, and also deliberate on the scope and the opportunities in field of community engagement. Attended by different stakeholders such as the academia, government, civil society, the workshops provided an opportunity to share mutual experiences, best practices as also concrete action points for operationalizing community engagement in the Indian higher education system. The workshops paved the way for the future as the stakeholders reiterated their commitment to take the agenda forward in their own capacities. Support from the governmental machinery as in Punjab and Karnataka further energized the efforts and gave it due visibility in local circles.

Apart from the core project activities, the UNESCO Chair also engaged in a number of allied interventions to promote this area of work. It organized a number of seminars/conferences in universities/colleges, such as Bundelkhand University, Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University, for raising awareness on the issue and bringing on board the different actors involved in the process. The Chair also played a key role in the formulation of the new UGC scheme, which provides for the establishment of Center for fostering social responsibility and community engagement in Universities. It also organized a consultation on the scheme, which saw participation by a number of universities and has also volunteered for mentoring the project proposals being submitted under the scheme.

The Chair summed up the project with a National Symposium on ‘Mainstreaming Community-University Partnerships’. This symposium witnessed some esteemed participants deliberating in the event. Some of the eminent invitees included Dr Budd Hall, Co-Chair, UNESCO Chair, Dr Bl Mungekar (former member, Planning Commission), Dr Cristina Escrigas from Global University Network for Innovation, Dr Carol Ma from Lingnan University, Hong Kong, Mr Denis Dambois from European Union, among many others. All of them shared their experiences in the field of engagement and deliberated on methods to take it forward. The event also saw Dr Ronki Ram and Dr Pahi Saikia from Punjab University and IIT-G respectively, sharing the findings which emerged from the survey conducted in their respective states. Participants like Dr Anindya Chatterjee from IDRC and Dr Furqan Qamar from AIU gave the symposium a holistic perspective. Excellent inputs from stakeholders coming from academia, civil society, etc, provided a platform from where this agenda can be taken forward. The Chair re-iterated its commitment to continue working on the engagement topic and pledged to partner with institutions like AIU/IDRC for building a national network of engaged practitioners. In this regard, it has taken a step forward towards the formation of an Alliance on Community Engagement (ACE), [one of the recommendations of Planning Commission’s sub-committee on ‘strengthening community engagement in HEIs’] and will be giving it a final shape very soon.

You can find all reports under this project in the ‘Resources’ section of the UNESCO Chair website (http://unescochair-cbrsr.org/unesco/)


Building the Next Generation of Community-based Researchers ("The NextGen project")

Building the Next Generation of Community-based Researchers ("The NextGen project")

Category: Project
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Project Description
Over the past 20-25 years a variety of community-based research (CBR) strategies have gained acceptance as particularly valuable for addressing complex social, health, environmental and poverty issues. This is in part due the acknowledgement that the engagement of the intended beneficiaries of the research is critical to being able to make changes or ensure adoption of research outcomes and recommendations. "Community-based research" is an umbrella term that refers to approaches such as participatory research, participatory action research, engaged scholarship, collaborative inquiry and more—comprising a rich and evolving literature. Works along these lines address reasons why CBR is an effective contributor to social and community change; or how CBR has been used within a variety of contexts (including Indigenous communities, residents of coastal communities, or for affordable housing). Finally, this literature considers ways that various participatory methods can be used in CBR such as Indigenous methodologies, participatory video, photo voice, community theatre, community consultations and more. There is very little engagement to date, however, on how best to train people in CBR either in university or community settings. We also have no data on what types of CBR training is currently available, especially in the global South and the excluded North. Given that many simply learn CBR through trial and error, the challenge is to find the best way to provide training for the next generation of community-based researchers.
The NextGen project is aimed at creating new interdisciplinary knowledge by examining CBR training practices in the thematic areas of local asset development, participatory citizenship, Indigenous research methodologies and water governance in global and institutional settings. It further builds a global partnership to create more training opportunities with an emphasis on the Global South. Our partnership includes four internationally respected and leveraged lead organizations working in the designated thematic areas (the Coady International Institute at SFXU, the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES) at UBC, and the Institute for Studies & Innovation in Community-University Engagement (ISICUE) at UVic), as well as diverse regional and global partners working in the broader field of community-university engagement in Latin America, Asia, Europe, North America and the Arabic speaking states. The overall goal of the NextGen project is contribute to increase access to high quality training in CBR within higher education institutions and civil society organizations with a particular focus on the Global South. Our objectives are to identify:
1) current regional sources for the training of new community-based researchers
2) best practices related to local asset development, Indigenous research methodologies, participatory citizenship and water governance
3) lessons learned in several pilot studies on training in CBR
4) potential for collaboration amongst the partners as a training network.

The four thematic lead partners (Coady, PRIA, ISICUE and IRES) have extensive research and training experience and global reputations in their areas of expertise. Taken together, the partnership represents the organisational heart of the global community-university engagement movement.

Theoretical Framework
The conceptual framework for this project is grounded in theories of knowledge recognizing of the value of linking community-based knowledge with academic knowledge in the creation of what is known as knowledge democracy and CBR as a methodological and values-based approach to the co-creation of knowledge and the pedagogies of learning and teaching CBR. Increased knowledge democracy means (among other things) recognizing civil society or community as a source of knowledge about complex issues. It means, for example, valuing the knowledge of those living without good access to water in Africa, women elected officials in local government in India, or those holding traditional Indigenous knowledge in Latin America. CBR, then, refers to a diverse set of methods of partnership research that facilitate co-creation of knowledge. Of critical importance, however, is the issue of how the next generation of knowledge workers will gain access to the methods and values of CBR. We need to know what the pedagogies and strategies for building capacities are, especially in the Global South.

Methods
In order to collect relevant data we will do an extensive literature review of training, teaching and learning CBR in the Global South, a compilation of different types and methods of CBR training (e.g., video training materials), and a global survey to supplement what we know from the literature in regards to training CBR. We will also identify and analyze selected cases for in-depth pilot studies and ‘best practices’ models for CBR training. Finally, we will organize two symposia to seek critical outside inputs on work to date.

Expected outcomes
We intend to develop three main products: a practical guide to facilitating CBR, a book on the theory and practice of pedagogical approaches, and a suite of video training materials. We will create also an open-access globally-accessible depository for studies, curricular materials, course modules, conference findings and policy recommendations, and a web 2.0 interactive website and blog space to promote regional and global networking in the training of CBR.
Support and Partners
This project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) as a Partnership Development Grant. Our partnership is led by Budd Hall and Rajesh Tandon, co-chairs of the UNESCO Chair in CBR and Social Responsibility in Higher Education, Crystal Tremblay, research coordinator for the UNESCO Chair. Expertise in the thematic clusters comes from Leila Harris with the Program on Water Governance at UBC, Alison Mathie with the Coady International Institute at SFXU, Martha Farrell, Director of the PRIA Academy for Lifelong Learning, and Leslie Brown, Director of the Institute for Studies & Innovation in Community-University Engagement at the University of Victoria. Of critical importance is also the inclusion of a diversity of global and regional networks on community-university engagement, such as the Talloires Network, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, PRIA, Global University Network for Innovation, Living Knowledge Network, the Asia-Pacific University-Community Engagement Network and PASCAL Observatories, as well as the University of Alberta, The University of Victoria, Royal Roads University, Lignan University, Makerere University, and the University of Kwazulu-Natal. Our network builds on these existing efforts and will constitute the heart of information and outreach on training for community-based research.

For more information please contact:
Walter Lepore, PhD Candidate, University of Victoria
Project Coordinator | NextGen Project
UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education
walepore@uvic.ca


Project: Strengthening Community University Research Partnerships

Project: Strengthening Community University Research Partnerships

Category: Project
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Support and Partners: This project is funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada with significant additional in-kind resources from the University of Victoria, Makerere University, the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada, the Centro Boliviano de Estudios Multidisciplinarios (CEBEM) and a number of regional and global networking organisations including the Living Knowledge Network, Talloires Network, and PASCAL Observatories.

Project Description

‘Strengthening Community University Research Partnerships’ is a global study of institutional arrangements for the facilitation and support of research partnership between community groups and universities. This project is an initiative of the UNESCO Chair of Community-based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education and is funded in part by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) with significant additional in-kind resources from the University of Victoria, the University of Makerere, the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada, the Centro Boliviano de Estudios Multidisciplinarios (CEBEM) and a number of regional and global networking organisations including the Living Knowledge Network, Talloires Network, and PASCAL Observatories.

The project aims to: 1) develop an understanding of how research partnerships are initiated, supported, and evaluated through a comparative study of different types of institutional arrangements; 2) promote awareness of the significance and appropriateness of creating and/or supporting such enabling structures amongst decision-makers in higher education institutions (HEIs) in the Global South; and 3) mobilize knowledge for practitioner and policy actions in creating appropriate structures in different countries through the identification of best practices and recommendations.

In order to gain an overview of trends and patterns around the world on Community University Research Partnership (CURP) facilitating structures, we are undertaking a multi-lingual global survey in cooperation with our regional and global network partners. In addition to documenting advanced Community-University Research Partnership (CURP) structures, the survey will try to reach out to those working in pre-formal structures or intermediary mechanisms of engagement, to inform on challenges faced to progress toward institutionalization. We are also interested in the genesis of these arrangements and the dynamics of evolution from one institutional arrangement to the next.

Description of CURP

The engagement of Higher Education Institutions (HEI) and Civil Society Organizations (CSO) take many forms and functions around the world. For the purpose of this study Community-University Research Partnerships (CURP) includes building and fostering partnerships with Higher Education Institutions (HEI), and Civil Society Organizations, in responding to a wide range of community needs and services and often involves capacity building, knowledge building, participatory research, citizen-centric development, and policy advocacy. These partnerships involve an iterative process of learning, reflection and action, whereby the process and results are useful to both community members and university partners in a wide range of areas developing social equity and creating positive social and institutional change.

There are a variety of organizational and administrative structures involved in facilitating community-university research partnerships where co-creation of knowledge or joint engagement in the research is the goal:

  • Projects led by individual either from the community or the university
  • Projects based in university centres or disniplinary structures (Centre for Youth and Society at Uvic, the Science Shop in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Guelph)
  • Projects based in university-wide structures – Community University Partnership Programme – Brighton University, UK
  • Projects based in joint university community networks – The Canadian Community Economic Development Network, The Living Knowledge Network of Science Shops
  • Projects based in NGOs or community-based organisations – PRIA in Asia, the Centre for CBR in Ontario, Canada
  • Projects based in government structures – The Rural Secretariat, Government of Newfoundland
  • National networks of solidarity – Brazil and Argentina

Additional networks and structures include the Global University Network for Innovation of Barcelona; the Sub-Saharan African Participatory Research Network in Senegal; the Developing Research on Citizenship network based at the University of Sussex; PASCAL Observatory on Place Management, CEBEM in Bolivia, Community Engagement and Learning Regions; the Australian University Community Engagement Association and many other emerging networks.

Publications

This project has resulted in the successful publications of two products, one an e-book (titled, ‘Strengthening Community University Research Partnerships: GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES) and other, a manual (titled, ‘Institutionalizing Community University Research Partnerships), which are a synthesis of the findings and learning’s that emerged as a result of this initiative. We are very pleased to share to with you both the literary resources, which are open access publications and free to download from this website.

You can access both the publications and a small video featuring Dr Budd Hall & Dr Crystal Tremblay (giving a broad background of the study) here: http://unescochair-cbrsr.org/unesco/publications/

For more information please contact
Dr. Crystal Tremblay, Research Coordinator for the UNESCO Chair in CBR and Social Responsibility in Higher Education.
Email: crystaltre@gmail.com