UVic Opens New Community-Based Research Office

University-community partnerships in Canada took a major step forward today with the official launch of an Office of Community-Based Research (OCBR) at the University of Victoria.

The office is the first university-wide initiative of its kind in the country and is attracting national and international interest from other institutions seeking closer research ties with community groups.

The OCBR will create and support research partnerships that enhance the social, environmental and economic well-being of communities. It will be a focal point for university faculty and students who are doing or wish to do community-based research, and an open door for community groups to access UVic research partners. It will also make evidence-based recommendations for new policies, programs and practices to meet community needs.

In most academic research, the idea for the research comes from a scholar and is driven by questions of science and intellectual thought. Community-based research themes or questions originate in the communities themselves, are carried out collaboratively with community groups, and are focused on action-oriented solutions.

“UVic has a rich history of community engagement,” says Dr. Valerie Kuehne, UVic’s vice-president external relations. “This new research initiative affirms that commitment and places us in a national leadership role. It’s an exciting opportunity to demonstrate what great things can be achieved when communities and universities work closely together.”

“With many of the social, environmental, health and economic issues facing us today we need research that engages those who are working on the front lines,” says Dr. Budd Hall, director of the OCBR. “Issues in Victoria, such as homelessness or climate change, are best understood and acted upon when those working to find solutions are driving the research.”

The OCBR was created after two years of consultation with community groups and First Nations in the Victoria region and across Vancouver Island. It is guided by a 16-member steering committee composed equally of university and community members, and an 11-member advisory committee of national and international experts and practitioners.

UVic has a large number of nationally and internationally respected leaders in community-based research in fields such as environmental studies, health promotion, coastal studies, assistive technologies, Indigenous and cultural studies, and education.

The OCBR will have a special focus on partnerships with First Nations communities. “Aboriginal studies at UVic and elsewhere is one of the fields where the commitment to community-based research is strongest,” says Hall.

Although the concept of community-based research is not new, universities and communities, as well as research funders and governments, are increasingly interested in ‘mobilizing’ research knowledge to solve societal problems.

“UVic has made a commitment to civic engagement, placing it at the forefront of Canadian universities,” says Hall. “We’re working with others across the country and around the world to promote community-based research as a new source of energy for local, national and international well-being.”

For examples of successful UVic-community-based research partnerships, a list of upcoming OCBR activities, and information on two significant partnership agreements with the OCBR, see the attached backgrounders.

For more information on the Office of Community-Based Research visit www.uvic.ca/ocbr.

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Click here for the backgrounder.

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Keywords: uvic, opens, new, communitybased, research, office

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