From the Director’s Desk: A New Beginning

BY SHAUNAK SASTRY, TCP DIRECTOR  Starting this month, we are instituting a new blog for the TCP community – I am hoping for TCP to be more regular in reaching out and sharing the excellent work being done by our researchers, students, affiliates, community partners and others. I am also hoping that this blog will become a space to share/discuss/debate cutting-edge community-engaged work and the big picture issues that accompany such research. For our initial blog entry, I will review the excellent symposium that we recently hosted.

TCP’s 7th Annual Symposium
It has been more than two weeks since the seventh annual TCP symposium, and I am still reliving the fascinating discussions witness across the sessions. In our first panel, representative speakers from some of our community partners, including Curtis Webb from Design Impact, Ashley Young from the Urban League, Renee Mahafee Harris from Closing the Health Gap and Dr. Meredith Smith from Children’s Cradle and Queen’s Village, spoke with great insight and passion about the expectations and responsibilities of doing community-engaged work. A recording of this panel is available on our website and I thoroughly recommend it to any researcher, graduate student, or any academic, for that matter, as a masterclass on how community partners’ perspectives on the research process, their ethical expectations from academic partners, and the gulf between academic and community agendas in research.  

Our second panel discussed the politics of community-engaged research from the perspective of UC faculty researchers who do this work. Drs. Leila Rodriquez, Staci-Furst Holloway, and Carolette Norwood, all from the College of Arts and Sciences, offered experience-based insights. They discussed the ethics of working with communities, of working in the classroom and the field, and the politics of being vulnerable and reflexive as cornerstones of community-based research.  A recording of this panel is also available here.

Scholars interested in our work and the ethics of our work can also check out this panel discussion from our symposium featuring members of the TCP leadership team outlining our approach to working with communities.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Mohan J Dutta, speaking virtually from Aotearoa New Zealand, offered an excellent provocation for academic researchers, grounded in their pathbreaking work across New Zealand, Singapore, India and the United States. As academic institutions increasingly approximate neoliberal enterprise-driven corporations, the relationship between academic researchers and community partners (here often seen as indigenous/untapped sources of knowledge) deserves renewed scrutiny, in Dutta’s telling. The talk anchored the politics of solidarity, what solidarity means for researchers housed in Universities, and the potential of backlash from within the neoliberal University.

The leadership team thanks Dr. Dutta for the riveting talk, as well as all the panelists and the audience members who helped recreate the positive energy that has become a trademark of our symposium.

From the Director’s Desk: A New Beginning

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