Working with communities to design and conduct collaborative research that is relevant and empowering

This is a difficult and time-consuming approach but is ultimately the most respectful and equitable way to work with communities. We also believe that Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) can yield the greatest long-term benefits for both people and environment.

 

Picture a team of foreign academics arriving on your street, setting up camp in a field or an empty house, and announcing their intentions (through an interpreter) to study your waste disposal habits in order to help you recycle and reduce your environmental impact.

Sounds absurd? Well it’s not too far from the reality of what happens around the world when research teams arrive in remote village communities. Research projects often lack the time and funds (and sadly sometimes the inclination) to develop an approach along the lines of community based participatory research. For a quick definition to CBPR we can turn to the Community Health Scholars Program

“A collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings.  CBPR begins with a research topic of importance to the community and has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change…”

The important concepts underpinning this approach are “equity”, “partnership”, and “collaboration”. It is research that attempts to answer a question that is important to the community, with a methodology that is designed by both the community and experts, and that is conducted in collaboration with community members.

Presently we are developing CBPR projects into sustainable river fisheries management, and soil-enriching alternatives to swidden agriculture.