Building Academic Capacity

Title of Proposal

Building Academic Capacity for Community Engaged Scholars at McGill University

Presenter Name(s)

Ann C. Macaulay, Jon Salsberg


Participatory Research at McGill (PRAM) opened in fall 2006 at McGill University with a mission “To further scholarship and promote the knowledge, expertise and training for participatory research (PR) and community engagement in health care,” including applying PR principles to increase knowledge translation. In 2007 we assessed faculty needs by conducting semi-structured interviews and one focus group with faculty already engaging community in scholarship from 9 departments in Medicine, Arts, Education, Agricultural & Environmental Sciences. Qualitative analysis revealed themes of history of PR, partnerships, funding, project evaluation, disseminating results, influencing policy, academic promotion and tenure, ethics of partnership agreements and review boards. Results formed the development of a needs assessment survey delivered by email in 2008, which resulted in 125 responses from researchers in 14 departments of Faculty of Medicine. Top three needs were grant application skills, evaluation methods and models, and research partnership agreements. Researchers self-rated their PR experience as significant (16%), some (66%) and none (18%). Results were used to build evidenced-based Faculty of Medicine development workshops which included role-modeling by academic-community teams and worksheets to support community engagement; and training sessions for individual departments, including family medicine, epidemiology, health and social policy, humanitarian health, nursing, psychiatry, geography and law. The first faculty development workshop was attended by 32 participants, and training sessions have reached over 100. We offer a monthly seminar series, wrote CIHR’s ‘Guide to Researcher and Knowledge-User Collaboration in Health Research’, developed a graduate 3-credit course, and trained medical students. Many faculty members hav e included us on their CES grants (with overall success of 50%) which promotes experiential learning. Without formal evaluation, we believe McGill University has significantly increased CES, due to increased general awareness, PRAM efforts and availability of new funds requiring partnerships with community members and end-users (including decision makers). In our experience key contributors for training faculty and students include role modeling, training opportunities by established CES, guidelines and tools for developing partnerships and research agreements, ongoing guidance, grants, knowledgeable institutional review boards and a supportive university culture for promotion and tenure.

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