Advancing Social Justice One Research Project at a Time
Trent faculty and alumna highlight importance of partnerships between academia and local communities to research sustainability and food security issues
Whether it’s creating awareness and stewardship of a region’s flora and fauna or helping establish community gardens, Trent University has long embraced engaged scholarship – the partnerships between academics and community organizations to research community-driven issues.
Trent researchers, for example, continue to work with the not-for-profit charity Abbey Gardens in Haliburton, ON to prepare ecological tours, improve market tables and create awareness of environmental sustainability in the region.
Across North America and beyond, there’s a growing acceptance of and recognition for engaged scholarship in post-secondary institutions.
“This leads to healthier and ecologically sustainable communities with a social-justice orientation,” says Dr. Nadine Changfoot, associate professor of Political Studies at Trent University and executive member of the Trent Centre for Aging Studies whose areas of expertise include engaged scholarship.
Creating lasting partnerships through engaged scholarship
To highlight the importance and community impact of engaged scholarship, Professor Changfoot recently co-edited and contributed to a special section on the topic in the Winter 2020 issue of the leading U.S. journal Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, Volume 26, Issue 1.
The special section includes 11 articles that discuss community impact related to long-term care, food security, rural communities, neighbourhood capacity building, Mayan Indigenous communities, international service learning in Rwanda, farmers’ markets, leadership programs, faculty tenure and promotion.
“These articles demonstrate the importance and impact of engaged scholarship driven by, with and for communities,” says Prof. Changfoot, who co-authored the introduction as well as two articles, Engaged Scholarship and Tenure and Promotion and Accounting for Community Impact. “Bringing faculty and student resources of the University to build trusting and meaningfully reciprocal relationships and projects for social justice is key for long-lasting partnerships.”
Trent alumna Emily Amon, a graduate from the Masters in Sustainability Studies program, contributed the article Brokering Community-Based Research on U-Links in Haliburton County, a leader in North America in community-based research, with Dr. Stephen Hill, associate professor of Environmental and Resource Sciences, and long-time Trent community partners Jim Blake and Marie Gage from U-Links.
“These articles are helpful for planning, conduct, reflection, and support for engaged scholarship, including in tenure and promotion processes and funding applications,” adds Prof. Changfoot.