In the context of post-secondary education, research imperatives are frequently handed down; dropped into neighborhoods as a direct extension of academic interests. Yet, the feedback received from communities is that research participation is often taxing and that its outcomes are rarely as useful to the people on the ground as they are to academia.
The Park-Extension-based community-based action research (CBAR) Network aims to bring into visibility, in the Park-Extension context, the relationship between knowledge, collective work and the social-political. This occurs in relation to neighborhood-specific interventions driven by researchers that allow participating institutions to benefit from: increased visibility, access to research funding and access to community partnership. Coordinated CBAR practices can also lead to opportunities for residents to be meaningfully engaged in research and community organizing for equitable neighbourhood change. Although this coordinated research work in Park-Extension is still in its infancy, it has so far hinted at the extent to which strategically situated, agency-laden research initiatives can contribute to localized community organizing and help bridge a disconnect between institutional good-intents versus actual impact.
The C-FAR (Critical Feminist Activism and Research) project out of Concordia’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute is a community-building, research and training initiative emerging from an intersectional feminist framework anchored in anti-racist and anti-oppressive approaches to equity, inclusion and representation on campus and across communities. In speaking and working with people across differences, C-FAR strives to reimagine how our university works and who it works for in order to foster a non-binary learning space that is intentionally inclusive and accessible, anti-racist and anti-colonial.
Using these two case studies as a starting point, this Living Knowledge event considers solidarity approaches to research and the role that post-secondary education can play in neighborhood-based rights advocacy. To what extent is research in community an extension of unchecked privilege? Who’s benefitting most from research? And, most importantly, what would it take to share and tangibly redirect those benefits?
Faiz Abhuani has been a community organizer for over 15 years. He has worked on a number of issues around expanding access to healthcare, immigrant rights and popular education. He has contributed to the efforts of a variety of organizations including Project Genesis, Le Frigo Vert, No One Is Illegal, CKUT 90.3FM, Qpirg Concordia, Moisson Montréal and the Students' Society of McGill University (SSMU). His objective remains to promote a long term vision for social change and to raise awareness on the importance of building infrastructure for success.
Naomi Nichols is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University. She has been doing feminist, community-based and participatory research since 2007.
Alex Megelas is a programs coordinator at the Concordia University Office of Community Engagement, where he is responsible for the University of the Streets Café program. He is a PhD student in Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University currently working on a SSHRC insight development grant looking at poverty reduction strategies across Quebec and Southern Ontario. He is an affiliate facilitator of the Centre for Community Organizations (COCo).
Meghan Gagliardi is a Master’s student in Geography at Concordia University studying the role and expertise of student organizers in dismantling racism and hegemonic whiteness in the Canadian university. Apart from her research, Meghan writes poetry. As Project Coordinator, Meghan maintains C-FAR’s existing projects and relationships, analyzes, writes about and shares the results of C-FAR’s work and develops and supports emerging projects tackling systemic injustices in our universities and beyond.
Annick Gold is a Master’s student in Communications at Concordia University studying Black identity in Montreal (its iterations, eras of thought, and intersectionality). Beyond Annick’s research work, she is a radio host, filmmaker and multimedia artist. As Outreach Coordinator, Annick has been creating links between the Montreal community, the campus, the university and the project.
Living Knowledge strives to bring together faculty, staff and students who share a passion for community engaged scholarship, with the goal of creating connections, sharing ideas and strengthening our collective practice. Community organizers and representatives from other universities are also welcome. For more information, please email email@example.com or follow this link to RSVP.