In 2017 the Melbourne Social Equity Institute invited researchers from across the University of Melbourne, as well as from other institutions and the wider community, to join a Community of Practice focused on Community Engaged Research.
The Community of Practice brought together people from a range of backgrounds to explore the ethics, methods and approaches to community engaged research.
The final event in the Community of Practice program was a symposium held on Thursday 14 February 2019 at which Professor Meredith Minkler (University of California, Berkely) gave the keynote address.
The Melbourne Social Equity Institute, in collaboration with a number of University of Melbourne research networks, received a grant from Chancellery (Engagement) to establish a Community of Practice (CoP) to explore models for community-engaged research. A CoP is a term used to refer to a group that shares practices as well as a process of generating knowledge.
Community-engaged research encompasses a spectrum of varying levels of community participation in research. Different levels and types of participation are appropriate for different research projects and contexts. This CoP is particularly interested in how to facilitate a high level of community decision-making about the purpose, design, conduct and use of research. The CoP will examine methods and approaches that provide people with an active and empowered role throughout the research process, and the social implications of this.
While a mature methodological approach exists in the United States and the United Kingdom, in Australia, community-engaged research is an emerging field. There are similarities and differences across disciplines as to how community-engaged research is articulated, defined and conceptualised, and this CoP will take an inclusive approach, exploring members’ diverse perspectives on and experiences of community-engaged research.
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Structure and Aims
The Melbourne Social Equity Institute will facilitate the CoP, drawing on the expertise of the individuals and groups involved, in order to draw out commonalities and differences in approach. The CoP will be open to all University researchers, professional staff and interested community members. It will meet over the course of a year to explore the ethics, methods and approaches to research with organisations, groups and individuals, including people with disabilities, children, older people, Indigenous communities, female victims/survivors of violence, and people seeking refuge and asylum.
The Melbourne Social Equity Institute will draw together the learnings from the CoP and will host a symposium to showcase successful models for community-engaged research and to disseminate this work more broadly.
The aims of this project are:
- To create a space for peer learning and reflection;
- To enhance the ability of academics and professional staff to engage with community-based organisations and individuals with lived experience;
- To strengthen the University’s partnerships with a diverse range of community organisations;
- To work with Chancellery (Engagement) to collaborate in developing an informed university-wide approach to community-engaged research; and,
- To lay the groundwork to establish the University of Melbourne as an academic leader this field.