75 Community Engagement and Collaboration | Brock University Social Justice Research Institute – Community Partnerships

Another Brock University research institute is the Social Justice Research Institute (SJRI). With 80+ affiliates from across the University and over 80 participating members (including past and current Brock staff and students, as well as community activists and partners), SJRI’s primary mission is to create and mobilize knowledge that addresses contemporary social problems, opens pathways to progressive social change, and ultimately, helps to build a more just society in and beyond the Niagara Region.

A person holding a stack of books

SJRI supports research-based community partnerships through three inter-connected models:

  1. making Community Engagement Grants available to affiliated members;
  2. providing access to the Project Facilitator to support community collaborations by helping source external funding (e.g. from government and from private foundations) and supporting team-building (e.g. trust and skills development) among members and community organizations;
  3. making other SJRI members and resources directly available to community-university teams to support the fulfillment of their specific research needs.

Learn more about recent and ongoing SJRI Community Partnerships.

Now, let’s take a deeper dive into one of these case studies, which involved a team of Brock University researchers working in collaboration with peer researchers from the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre (FENFC) to study barriers to employment engagement for Indigenous residents of Fort Erie as well as programs, supports, or resources that would assist Indigenous individuals to apply for, obtain, and remain in employment.

Together, this team has produced a Research Brief and Research Report. In addition, they have mobilized project-related knowledge in co-authored articles published in academic journal articles. This partnership has also led to further research collaborations, including the same FENFC-Brock team working on a project on Indigenous approaches to eldercare, funded by a McMaster University-based SSHRC-CIHR Partnership Grant project (led by Dr. Allison Williams). The team also is working on other projects under a new Brock University SSHRC Partnership Grant, Reimagining Care/Work Policies, led by Andrea Doucet. From this research, Andrea Doucet, Eva Jewell, and Vanessa Watts recently presented a paper entitled “Anishinaabe and feminist ecological social imaginaries of knowledge making: The Ethics of care, and ethico-onto-epistemological research practices” at the 2021 Care Ethics Research Consortium conference. These examples demonstrate the way the team’s community-university research partnership has generated more research relationships and opportunities.

Please take the time to watch this video VIDEO of a roundtable talk the team gave at the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) conference in July 2021 during which they reflected on their experiences working as part of a community-university research team. Afterward, please take the time to reflect on the associated thought questions included below.

If you would like to learn more about the SJRI, please visit them online. If you have specific questions about this case study, please contact sjri@brocku.ca

Thought questions

  1. What are some complications/tensions that can arise when doing this kind of collaborative work?
  2. What are some outcomes — expected and unexpected — that may emerge from community-university partnerships?
  3. Review the USAI Research Framework published by the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres and consider: in what ways does this model differ from western frameworks which continue to be prioritized in post-secondary educational institutions?

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