Learning from Community

Title of Proposal

Learning from Community: Methodological and Practical Reflections on Shifting the Academy

Presenter Name(s)

Terry L. Mitchell, PhD

, Jane Hennig, MA, 

Maria Liegghio, MA, 

Lindsay Buckingham-Rivard, MA


Research Team: The Centre for Community Research, Learning and Action (CCRLA) at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) and the Volunteer Action Centre (VAC) of Kitchener-Waterloo and Area, in conjunction with the Laurier Centre for Community Service Learning (LCCSL) are collaboratively working on a participatory study examining the activity, processes, and impact of community engaged scholarship (CES) at WLU and affected communities. 

Objectives: The broad objective of this study is to reflect on current practices of CES considering mechanisms of institutional change to advance transformative outcomes of campus-community partnerships. 

Theme: As such, this study aligns well with the fourth theme of the Community Engaged Scholarship conference, Strategies for Institutional Change. 
Relevance: To date, research examining the impacts of CSL has focused primarily on the outcomes for students, the potential benefits and barriers for faculty, and the differences between the cultures of academe and community. Community experience, needs, and perspective are, however, essential to the restructuring of university culture and protocols for CES. This study is designed to increase understanding of the varied experiences of community members and faculty, with attention to issues of voice, power, resources, and mutual benefit. 

Design: Our collaborative, participatory research design affirms the place of community voice and vision in the development of a new era of, and social architecture for, community-campus partnerships. Two advisory groups of community representatives from Brantford and Kitchener-Waterloo and two advisory groups of faculty representatives from Laurier Brantford and Waterloo campuses are assisting us in refining the focus of a larger study on CES, informing the methods, and reflecting upon the initial interpretation of the findings of the larger study. 

Contribution: University and community representatives of our research team will present critical insights from the first phase of the study. We will share the analysis of the community and faculty advisory group data on priorities for institutional change to advance effective, mutually beneficial community-university partnerships. We will also provide methodological reflections on studying the structures and processes of CES from a community versus university centric perspective, considering the potential for increasingly transformative outcomes through a study of community informed models of campus-community partnerships.

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