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Collaborative Research and Learning
Scientific knowledge is one important component of environmental policy and decision making. However, scientific research may fail to support ecological and human health goals if it is removed from local priorities, devoid of local knowledge and participation, or fails to acknowledge the complexity, vulnerability and uncertainty of social and ecological systems. Collaborative approaches to research and learning take a variety of forms but hold potential to be more inclusive of community knowledge and expertise, and more respectful of local customs, traditions and expectations.
At least in theory, community-based research, participatory action research, community service-learning and other collaborative approaches are tools for democratizing scientific work by moving away from academic methodologies for extracting information from people and places as “subjects” of study, toward methods based on shared responsibilities, decision-making, benefits and rights. However, a number of practical and philosophical challenges can stand in the way of the democratic ideals that underpin community-university collaboration. Fundamental issues are raised by inequities in capacity and distribution of power to make decisions: Which question(s) will be asked? and which will go unasked? what methods will be used to provide answers? and who interprets and has access to the outcomes? To date, it has been the asking, answering and dissemination processes of Western science and Western law that have dominated and been supported through financial, institutional, political and other means.
No one-size-fits-all solution emerges for how local knowledge and expertise can be brought together with Western science in complementary ways that are grounded in mutual respect for difference. While some collaborative efforts illustrate the highest levels of community control achievable, most are premised on active participation and full and active representation, working and making decisions collaboratively, capacity-building, co-creating and co-managing new knowledge – and ultimately sharing power.
Field course in Clayoquot Sound POLIS’s commitment to collaborative research and learning was formalized in 2001 through the establishment of the Community-University Connections initiative, which explores the use of science in environmental and social policy, and facilitates collaborative research between community organizations and university-based researchers. Since its inception in 2001, Community-University Connections has been a catalyst for institutional change at UVic and has played a key role in the establishment of the new Office of Community Based Research announced in Nov 2006.
Related Projects and Initiatives
- Digital Fishers, a collaborative crowd-sourced scientific data collection project based at CFGS and led by POLIS Research Associate Dr. Rod Dobell
- Chemainus Biodiversity Education Project, a pilot collaboration with local schools, organsations and First Nations
- Community-University Connections, a former POLIS project initiative developed by Kelly Bannister and Katherine Barrett in 2001 to facilitate research between community groups and university-based researchers
- Standard of Conduct for Research in Northern Barkley and Clayoquot Sound Communities, developed through the Protocols Project of the Clayoquot Alliance for Research Education and Training and facilitated by Community-University Connections
- Community-based research in Clayoquot Sound – Field course in 2005 developed by POLIS Research Associate Kelly Bannister
- Community-based research in Clayoquot Sound – Field course in 2003 developed by POLIS Research Associate Kelly Bannister
- Building Healthy Communities: The Role of Community-based Research and Community-based Research and the University of Victoria edited by POLIS Research Associate Kelly Bannister as part of the Community-Based Research Initiative at UVic, 2005-06 with POLIS as the secretariat
- Service-Learning at the University of Victoria: Understandings, Considerations and Recommendations by Jessica Leavens, Kelly Bannister and Frances Bryan in support of the Service-Learning Internship Program, UVic
- University and Community Linkages at the University Of Victoria: Towards a New Agenda for Community-Based Research, MPA thesis by Janett Dunnett, co-sponsored by POLIS (2004)
- Clayoquot Alliance for Research, Education and Training, a SSHRC-CURA project headed by Rod Dobell with POLIS Research Associate Kelly Bannister as collaborator
- Report of the UVic Task Force on Community-based Research co-authored by POLIS Research Associate Kelly Bannister in support of the new Office of Community-Based Research, UVic
- Living Knowledge: The International Science Shop Network, a European CBR network
- Loka Institute, a US-based network based on the science shops model
Page last updated: 02/05/2013