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Collaborative research

Rose Neville gets comfortable in the north Solution to identity crisis in contemporary society?

By Heidi Wicks

Collaborative research may be an issue much higher on the radar in the coming years.

Rose Neville is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education, and the principal of a primary school in Labrador. She is interested in examining the university landscape for new modes of research, which includes the hope that academic researchers will become more engaged in community-collaborative research.

“There’s a changing topography of the research enterprise,” she explained. “If you look at some of the documents that are coming out from SSHRC, they suggest that globalization, the knowledge economy, rapidly advancing technology are pushing universities to re-think their role in society. They can no longer be ivory towers or disengaged from the community and economy. They are called upon to be the heart of both.”

There is also a growing pressure from financial institutions, regarding funding for university research endeavours.

“More so than ever, there’s a use of service learning activities, in terms of developing programs that give students real-world experiences. So, universities have to rethink their contract with society by considering some important questions, which come out of the SSHRC document,” she maintained.

“Enter on the scene, collaborative research,” said Ms. Neville. “It has a role to play in what SSHRC is suggesting. There is a call to integrate research and practice. It’s not a method, but an orientation to research that may include any number of qualitative and quantitative methodologies. It’s an overarching trend. The CURA project here in the Faculty of Education has a number of different studies that use both methodologies.”

Other countries have used collaborative research successfully. Holland has implemented science shops – university-based research centres that assist community organizations in environmental and social research. Citizens and organizations come to these science shops with questions or issues for which they need research help. There are over 60 of these shops in Europe.

The United States has non-profit institutes like the Loka Institute, which has built a diverse network of academic centres using the community based research (CBR) model. The goal is to develop a decentralized system of CBR.

Canada’s SSHRC-CURA models are building on Holland’s Science Shop model, and Memorial’s Faculty of Education is contributing to that development. For more information on CURA research at Memorial, visit www.killickcentre.ca.
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