Tag Archives: community-based research

On teaching, learning, and service


My current community-based project has brought lots of reflective thinking. On one hand, I am blessed. On the other hand, I could not really avoid them. Here is my latest reflective thinking that I recently shared with my “partners in crime.”

If done right, community-based project is one of the most frustrating projects. Sometimes, one of the most successful is among the most frustrating. People might argue it doesn’t have to (be frustrating). I would argue back, I am not sure if he/she truly understands the complexities of a true community-based project.

One of the possible source of frustrations from this process is that I follow a learning process/theory called popular education (see Paulo Freire and Myles Horton if interested). While the very large majority of instructors follow traditional learning approaches called pedagogy (teaching for children) and/or andragogy (teaching for adult). Popular education is mostly adopted and continued to be developed in a specific area of sociology and community psychology. While pedagogy and andragogy are exclusive in school of education. Most of their strategies are contradictive.

In addition, I am *very* flexible, but I realize it does create confusions and messiness around me sometimes, and maybe they could be counter-productive. But as long as it produces good impacts on community partners and their immediate communities, that is all that matters to me, to be completely very honest. I don’t mind at all with all the messiness, I will have to deal with them.


South Madison Farmers’ Market Looking for Local Supports


by Jasmine Badreddine and Wally Graeber

The South Madison Farmers’ Market (SMFM) has been in the area for more than a decade. Despite the strong intention to provide safe, affordable, healthy food to the South Madison community, why does the market struggle to attract both vendors and customers?

That is the question that Robert Pierce and Shellie Pierce asked a team of undergraduate students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to answer. Robert and Shellie, a motivated father-daughter pair, are two key organizers of the market. They collaborated with eight students from the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies to conduct a research project this past fall semester to address the question.

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Promoting Community Environmental Sustainability Using a Project-Based Approach


Dadit Hidayat*, Randy Stoecker**, and Heather Gates***

In Korgen, K.O., White, J.M., and, White, S.K. (2014) Sociologists in Action: Sociology, Social Change, and Social Justice Second Edition.  SAGE Publications, Inc .


Environmental sustainability is a topic of discussion across the globe. But getting people to act collectively on environmental sustainability, especially in local communities, is fraught with challenges. Sociologically, the challenge is one of understanding how collective action works in order to mobilize community members around environmental issues. An important sociological aspect of mobilizing people for collective action is framing those issues effectively (see Benford and Snow, 2000). Frames are toolboxes of interpretation that help us make sense of the world. We have frames of not just what is right and wrong, but even about what does or does not exist. For example, people have various frames of what “sustainable” is. One person might interpret ethanol as sustainable, comparing it to fossil fuels, while another might interpret it as unsustainable based on an analysis of the energy required to grow and transform the corn into ethanol. Activists weigh into these controversies, attempting to bridge their frames with community members’ frames or transform community members’ frames to fit with the activists’ frames.

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The most important in collaboration is, to me, being patient.


According to a MacBookPro’s dictionary :), here it is a definition of ‘patient’ as an adjective:

able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.

Image of people collaboratingLast Thursday in our community-based research (CBR) class, we reviewed a recruitment email that needed to be sent to our research subjects.  At one point I thought, let’s just use this version and move forward.  But students were starting to offer inputs share discomfort with the original email version.  Feeling the energy from students in improving the email, I then asked, “do you want to split and work in two smaller groups so that we can work on two different tasks, or do you want to stay in a bigger group and work on this email together?”  Students anonymously indicated their desire to stay together, and I agree.  Consequently, I had to delay offering a training on how to create an encryption folder with a TrueCrypt software to students for the third or even fourth times, which was completely fine to me.

Continue reading The most important in collaboration is, to me, being patient.

This is why literature review may not be necessary in a full semester CBR course.


This semester I am co-instructing a community-based research course with the South Madison Farmers’ Market.  Last week in the Midwest Knowledge Mobilization Network meeting, I was sharing with one of the event’s participants that we would not ask students to conduct a literature review as part of our research report.  I explained that literature review can be done anytime and they already have the skills in doing that kind of work.

This participant was surprised, and thought that literature review should be part of the research activities.  This participant went on to say that literature review helped inform researchers to”negotiate” the scope of “collaborative” research with their community partner.

I have been doing some thinking since then and thought there are a couple important points.

First, one of the main purposes of offering a community-based research course is to give opportunities to students to gain knowledge from community.  Literature review will violate this spirit since students will “still” be gaining book or literature knowledge.  Please read also what Lynet Uttal suggested about local theorizing.

Second, community-based research is an attempt to direct academic research that addresses real community problems.  Community know the exact problems that need solving.  Researchers do not negotiate on that.  Rather, researchers work together with community in framing the problem to a research question that can produce actionable research findings.  That is, research findings that can be used immediately by community to support their program planning.

I welcome your thoughts in this.

We are a cycle and we are now complete


Thursday May 9th was the last instructional day of spring semester 2013. We gathered in Room 15 Science Hall to deliver what we have learned from our community-based research to The Natural Step Monona (TNS Monona). It sounded like any other classes in the last week of semester. However, it was rather special for me–a bittersweet moment–after deeply involved in three-academic-year of community-university partnership between the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and TNS Monona, we arrived to the end of a cycle.


Continue reading We are a cycle and we are now complete

Dissertation Research Abstract [2]


You might wonder what has happened with the Dissertation Research Abstract [1].  I used to think that I would like to do a community-based research (CBR) on transportation.  What I have learned from my recent CBR project with The Natural Step Monona was that transportation is not on their top priority list.  As a result, there is no strong basis for conducting CBR in transportation because transportation is not a pressing issue for Monona residents and therefore there is no immediate needs in addressing it.

Another learning point from this is that when a researcher wants to conduct a CBR, a topic becomes secondary.  CBR is a methodology that aims to address whatever we learn from the needs assessment process.  Community will identify a set of local community issues and then rank them to see what is the most important for them to asnwer.  This can be anything from a chicken in someone’s backyard to as complex as Wisconsin’s collective bargaining issue. It is imperative that CBR follows community’s interests.

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