Research That Matters (January 17 - 20, 2008)

Friday, January 18, 2008: 10:00 AM-11:45 AM
Congressional Room A (Omni Shoreham)
[Pov/C] Making Research Matter: Building University and Community Capacity for Research Engagement
Speakers/Presenters:Claudia Coulton, PhD, Case Western Reserve University
Mark Joseph, PhD, Case Western Reserve University
Edward Lawlor, PhD, Washington University in Saint Louis
Julian C. C. Chow, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
Dennis Culhane, PhD, University of Pennsylvania
Lorraine Gutierrez, PhD, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Abstract Text:
Students and faculty in schools of social work have a very long history of working with community agencies in a number of roles including service, advocacy, research and consultation. More recently, universities, especially those in areas facing challenges of poverty and social exclusion, have begun to explore ways in which these institutions can bring their expertise and research capability to engage the surrounding communities in mutually beneficial ways. Schools of social work can be vital participants in this community engagement, but they need to build the capacity to carry out rigorous research that not only benefits the community but also contributes to the scientific knowledge base of the profession and the broader fields of community building, engagement and development. The presenters in this roundtable will discuss from varying perspectives how this capacity can be built and sustained and provide examples of research designs, tools and methods that increase the rigor of the enterprise and assure that it adds value to the community. Specifically, Edward Lawlor will provide a historical and conceptual overview of university-community relations with respect to research. Claudia Coulton will describe the process of building a research infrastructure for community engagement in Cleveland and in particular the central role played by a regional information system developed by the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development. Mark Joseph will provide an example of how this infrastructure is being applied in a comprehensive community initiative in the neighborhoods surrounding Case Western Reserve University. Dennis Culhane will describe the research technology that has been developed in the Cartographic Modeling Laboratory and how this capacity has been used to enable development in neighborhoods surrounding University of Pennsylvania. These examples from Philadelphia and Cleveland will be used to stimulate a discussion of how to assure that this work also contributes to the knowledge base for the field pertaining to community development and change. The next two presneters will will address issues and challenges of developing community partnerships and building community research capacity with smaller, local non-profit organizations serving primarily low-income immigrant and ethnic minority populations. Julian Chow will present his experience in working with immigrant communities in California and Lorraine Gutierrez will describe her research partnerships in Detroit's Latino and African American neighborhoods. Drawing on these examples, Lawlor will will suggest principles that could guide considerations of effective community engagement, including fundementals such as applying university knowledge, building on community assets, and sustainability. Finally, presenters and participants in the roundtable will discuss alternative models for research engagement with the community, the strengths and weaknesses of these models, the resources available to sustain these enterprises. These deliberations will culminate in suggestions from presenters and participants as to how the field can build and expand the capacity of social work researchers to make research matter for the communities in which they live and while also making important contributions to scientific knowledge.

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See more of Research That Matters (January 17 - 20, 2008)