Sunday, February 19, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Karen Andrade, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA
Background: In an era of shrinking government investment in higher education, public universities in the U.S. are struggling to demonstrate their value in both producing new knowledge that addresses pressing societal problems and educating an engaged citizenry. One of the ways that universities are beginning to address this challenge is through innovative approaches to engage communities in research in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM). As one of the largest public university systems in the country the University of California has been the setting for important developments in community engaged scholarship. Methods: This poster will utilize an extended comparative case study to analyze three strategies that the authors have developed at the University of California. The three organizations to be compared are the Center for Regional Change (CRC) and the Community Outreach and Engagement Core of the NIH-funded Environmental Health Science Center (EHS) at UC Davis and the UC Berkeley Science Shop. The CRC is a solutions-oriented center that develops applied research on the social equity implications of environmental, health, civic engagement and youth development systems. The EHS is a NIH-funded center focused on environmental health disparities in rural California. The UC Berkeley Science Shop facilitates research partnerships between disadvantaged communities and researchers. All three share a core value: that science conducted in partnership with the communities will be more rigorous, have greater social relevance, and will have applications that actually reach and inform solutions. This method includes participant observation, key informant interviews and content analysis of project document. Results: The activities of the three centers are assessed based on 1) the extent of community inclusion in the stages of the research and the 2) the level of community stakeholders authority in the research. The graphing of these variables (inclusion and authority) allow us to illustrate the spectrum of engagement and identify the barriers to deeper community participation in research. By using and extended comparative case method we are able to analyze the innovations, challenges, and lessons learned for STEM research. The study highlights innovative methods to address tensions in engaged research between standards of “good science” and knowledge developed through collaborative partnerships with communities. Conclusions: Our work suggests a number of promising practices for public universities in training the next generation of STEM researchers in community-engaged science and for building the capacity of community organizations to engage meaningfully and beneficially with scientists.