The NextGen Project : Building the Next Generation of Community Based Researchers

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Over the past 20-25 years a variety of community-based research (CBR) strategies have gained acceptance as particularly valuable for addressing complex social, health, environmental and poverty issues. This is in part due the acknowledgement that the engagement of the intended beneficiaries of the research is critical to being able to make changes or ensure adoption of research outcomes and recommendations. "Community-based research" is an umbrella term that refers to approaches such as participatory research, participatory action research, engaged scholarship, collaborative inquiry and more—comprising a rich and evolving literature. Works along these lines address reasons why CBR is an effective contributor to social and community change; or how CBR has been used within a variety of contexts (including Indigenous communities, residents of coastal communities, or for affordable housing). Finally, this literature considers ways that various participatory methods can be used in CBR such as Indigenous methodologies, participatory video, photo voice, community theatre, community consultations and more. There is very little engagement to date, however, on how best to train people in CBR either in university or community settings. We also have no data on what types of CBR training is currently available, especially in the global South and the excluded North. Given that many simply learn CBR through trial and error, the challenge is to find the best way to provide training for the next generation of community-based researchers. The NextGen project is aimed at creating new interdisciplinary knowledge by examining CBR training practices in the thematic areas of local asset development, participatory citizenship, Indigenous research methodologies and water governance in global and institutional settings. It further builds a global partnership to create more training opportunities with an emphasis on the Global South. Our partnership includes four internationally respected and leveraged lead organizations working in the designated thematic areas (the Coady International Institute at SFXU, the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES) at UBC, and the Institute for Studies & Innovation in Community-University Engagement (ISICUE) at UVic), as well as diverse regional and global partners working in the broader field of community-university engagement in Latin America, Asia, Europe, North America and the Arabic speaking states. The overall goal of the NextGen project is contribute to increase access to high quality training in CBR within higher education institutions and civil society organizations with a particular focus on the Global South. Our objectives are to identify: 1) current regional sources for the training of new community-based researchers 2) best practices related to local asset development, Indigenous research methodologies, participatory citizenship and water governance 3) lessons learned in several pilot studies on training in CBR 4) potential for collaboration amongst the partners as a training network. The four thematic lead partners (Coady, PRIA, ISICUE and IRES) have extensive research and training experience and global reputations in their areas of expertise. Taken together, the partnership represents the organisational heart of the global community-university engagement movement.


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