With vaccinations increasing quickly now in the Durham region, we are turning our attention to community recovery and social innovation. Post-secondary institutions in the region are working closely with community partners to tackle important challenges through a solutions-oriented approach called community-based research. This collaborative approach holds promise for the renewal of communities, sustainability and enhanced well-being.
Community-based research comes in many forms. At Trent University Durham, researchers and students have been partnering with community agencies and programs to enhance the lives of youth, support seniors and support immigrants as they integrate into the community, in ways that address nitty-gritty challenges facing different sects of Durham Region’s population.
Research in action
Students in the Child and Youth Studies (CHYS) program at Trent Durham have been engaged in course-based research that supports the Oshawa Youth Council’s efforts to invigorate the voices of young community members through the TeachingCity Hub located in Oshawa’s downtown core. The partners in this project are exploring issues facing Oshawa’s youth and engaging them in municipal decision-making — with a voice at the table, the role of youth in the community (our future leaders) takes on real meaning. Additionally, award-winning Trent Durham CHYS professor Dr. Christine Goodwin-De Faria is conducting research to better understand the experiences of youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities in interactions with the justice system.
Under the direction of psychology professor, Dr. Nancie Im-Bolter, fourth-year Trent Durham psychology students are working with Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences to support older adults who are experiencing chronic conditions associated with aging, including dementia. In other aging community work, Professor Ken Chen is examining the pathways available to senior entrepreneurs in the Durham Region.
In our social work program, Dr. Marina Morgenshtern and Professor Dalon Taylor are working on collaborative projects, in addition to an independent community project by Taylor. Both projects support the integration of newcomers, including racialized immigrants in the Durham Region. These projects are steeped in community building as they seek to increase the capacity of support and availability of resources for immigrants. The overall aim is to explore the lived experiences of newcomers and immigrants, raise community awareness and support the Region in creating a welcoming, inclusive and prosperous community.
These are just a few examples of how Durham Region’s post-secondary institutions are playing a vital role in helping to support social health, innovation, and community development and to drive conversation about real and inclusive solutions.
Reciprocal relationships lead to real transformation
What is really important in community-based research is that this approach is reciprocal. The community can identify needs and seek support to work on these areas of need in novel ways that promote the development of best practices. At the same time, students gain high quality experiential learning opportunities and faculty deepen their research programs. Strengthening partnerships between post-secondary institutions, businesses and organizations in the region continues to build, and this will be even more important as we make our way through and past the pandemic. This is where real transformation is rooted.
Learn more about Trent Durham’s innovative researchers: trentu.ca/research
— Dr. Cathy Bruce is the acting vice-president of Research & Innovation at Trent University. This article originally appeared in Metroland-Durham Division.