When the only financial institution in a rural community leaves town, it can create social and economic upheaval. Student researchers Emmanuel Pinto and Duc Tran teamed up with Peterborough & The Kawarthas Economic Development (PKED) through the Trent Community Research Centre (TCRC) to figure out what it really means for those left behind.
“This affects communities across the country,” said Mr. Pinto, a third-year B.A. Honours joint major studying Business Administration and International Development Studies (IDST). “It’s a big issue that needs to be looked at more closely.”
“I saw it as an opportunity to learn and contribute to the community,” reflects Mr. Tran, a fourth-year international student who enrolled in Political Studies with an emphasis in Global Power & Politics after travelling the world.
Impact, mitigation & solutions
Both students felt that the project assigned in the Assessment of Development Projects course within IDST aligned well with their potential academic and career goals.
The TCRC connected them with Peterborough & The Kawarthas Economic Development (PKED) who proposed the community-based research project and established some guidelines.
The students’ methodology included extensive literature reviews. They also conducted interviews with residents, business owners, community leaders, service organizations and municipal governments in the towns of Apsley and Millbrook in Peterborough County. Both communities lost their bank in recent years.
“For the most part people are adapting or have adapted but some challenges still remain,” said Mr. Pinto, a Peterborough County resident.
They found that the closures created a loss of social inclusion for seniors who often do their banking in person. Employees of high cash businesses such as grocery stores now drive considerable distances to make deposits.
On the academic front, Mr. Pinto and Mr. Tran feel the project built on professional skills, such as interviewing and relationship-building.
“It’s been great to learn about research techniques and to become a better researcher, presenter and writer,” said Mr. Pinto. “It gets me excited about what I’m doing at Trent.”
The TCRC provided enthusiastic support for the students and guided their experience while they worked online due to the pandemic. A TCRC workshop prepared the team to present their work at its upcoming Celebration of Research event.
Kickstarting conversation about a contemporary issue
The team is currently analyzing the data to determine a path forward. Their written report will be made public by the PKED this spring. They may also present to local councils and municipal government.
“I hope it will open new pathways for the community, inspire others to look into this matter and expand knowledge,” reflects Mr. Tran.
Depositing knowledge & earning credit
The TCRC facilitates meaningful, community-based research projects in Peterborough City and County, Durham Region, and Northumberland County. Students earn academic credits while giving back.
“It’s important for student researchers to take part,” said Mr. Pinto who is leaning toward a career in rural economic development or municipal government. “We want to help out. We want to be involved.”
“I learned so much doing this research,” stated Mr. Tran. “It gave me an opportunity to test myself and learn much more about the Canadian experience.”
Mr. Pinto feels his university experience wouldn’t be complete without this interactive research project.
“I loved it. I would totally do it again.”
Learn more about experiential learning opportunities at Trent.