H O F S T R A
HORIZONS SPRING 2017
Making a Difference Through Research
Hofstraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Center for Civic Engagement
RESEARCH AND SCHOLARSHIP PROMOTING EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING AT HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY
ommunity-based research is gaining traction nationwide, and it has found an ardent supporter at Hofstra University in the ongoing work of the Center for Civic Engagement. The Center for Civic Engagement was founded by Hofstra faculty in 2007 in order to better involve students in civic and community work. The center, which reports to the provost, is now the hub for civic engagement activity at the University, serving as a tool kit for community partners, a resource for faculty, and an educator for all members of the campus community. This issue of Hofstra Horizons reports on the ways the Center for Civic Engagement supports research that connects Hofstra with the surrounding communities. Dr. Gregory Maney, the Harry H. Wachtel Distinguished Teaching Professor for the Study of Nonviolent Social Change, writes in his introduction that community-based research begins with a research question that germinates in a community and is pursued by both faculty and community members through collaborative research methods. Strong and sustainable relationships between the University and community are built over time as the partners identify solutions to community challenges. In this issue of Hofstra Horizons, Drs. Kari Jensen and Jessica Holzer describe the work of the Center for Civic Engagement’s communitybased research committee, which provides resources and networking opportunities to faculty and community members to forge research partnerships. Dr. Martine Hackett details her first experience with community-based research by way of a PhotoVoice project in Roosevelt, Long Island, where members of the community documented public health barriers and assets through the use of visual imagery. Dr. Andrea Libresco, Dr. Susan Cushman and Margaret Melkonian describe how the Peace Fellows program, which started in 2013, is gaining momentum and popularity with students as they learn about ways they can become peace activists. Dr. Jessica Holzer explains the benefits of community-based research and provides examples of her work. And finally, Professor Aashish Kumar recounts his use of a grant from the Long Island Community Foundation to respond to the critical needs of local nonprofit and civic organizations for digital and social media training and support to promote their work and help their communities.
HOFSTRAhorizons Research and Scholarship at Hofstra University
table of contents 4
aking a Difference Through Research – M Informed Advocacy, Community Building and Solidarity
enter for Civic Engagement: Student C Involvement With Community Partners AY 2016-2017
History, Mission and Current Involvement of the Community-Based Research Committee at Hofstra University
The Real Deal? Community-Based Participatory Research and the Search for Legitimacy
Stuart Rabinowitz, JD President
Gail M. Simmons, PhD
The Hofstra faculty and community members featured in this issue are doing work that will forge stronger relationships between the University and the community and will allow all partners to thrive in years to come. Sincerely,
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Robert Brinkmann, PhD Vice Provost for Scholarship and Engagement
Sofia Kakoulidis, MBA Associate Provost for Research and Sponsored Programs
Stuart Rabinowitz, JD President, Hofstra University
Alice Diaz-Bonhomme, BA Assistant Provost for Research and Sponsored Programs
ofstra University faculty have an enviable record of scholarly excellence in community-based research, and the Provost’s Office is proud to support their initiatives. This issue of Hofstra Horizons highlights the facultycommunity partnerships that have generated rigorous scholarly research that contributes to community trust and empowerment.
Peace Fellows: A Visible Peace Community Emerges at Hofstra
In the first feature story, Drs. Kari Jensen and Jessica Holzer describe the evolution of the Center for Civic Engagement’s community-based research committee. The committee hosts an annual Community Connections Dinner at which Hofstra faculty and members of local civic and nonprofit organizations meet to discuss potential projects of mutual interest. Dr. Jensen and Dr. Holzer cite the creation of the position of vice provost for scholarship and engagement, occupied by Dr. Bob Brinkmann, as an encouraging move toward expanding community-based research at Hofstra. Next, Dr. Martine Hackett walks the reader through a participatory community-based research project called PhotoVoice. In Roosevelt, New York, she met with community members to examine photographs they took of evidence of the community’s assets and areas in need of improvement. As discussions in the basement of a local fire hall unfolded, she wondered if community-based participatory research qualifies as “real research.” I’ll let you read the article to discover the answer to that question.
Community-Based Research: Experience and Evaluation
Electronic/Social Media in Community Organizing and Advocacy
HOFSTRA HORIZONS is published annually by the Office for Research and Sponsored Programs, 144 Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY 11549-1440. Each issue describes in lay language some of the many research and creative activities conducted at Hofstra. The conclusions and opinions expressed by the investigators and writers are their own and do not necessarily reflect University policy. ©2017 by Hofstra University in the United States. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the consent of Hofstra University. Inquiries and requests for permission to reprint material should be addressed to: Editor, Hofstra Horizons, Office for Research and Sponsored Programs, 144 Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY 11549-1440. Telephone: 516-463-6810.
Dr. Andrea Libresco, Dr. Susan Cushman, and Margaret Melkonian report on the rapidly growing Peace Fellows program, which brings together up to 15 students each spring to study peace and nonviolent social change and activism. Student responses to the education and issue advocacy programming show that the program’s curriculum gives students a fresh perspective on global issues and prompts them to become more active in local and global communities. The success of the Peace Fellows program led to the creation of the Institute for Peace Studies, which is looking to launch a major in peace and conflict studies in fall 2018. Dr. Jessica Holzer explains that community-based research is designed to address a community’s problems, and thus has a direct impact on the communities that participate. Dr. Holzer’s community-based study in the neighborhoods of New Haven, Connecticut, which took place while she was doing her postdoctoral work at Yale, led her to understand the complex relationship between obesity and violence. She learned that in some New Haven neighborhoods, residents were not physically active because they felt unsafe leaving their homes; to tackle obesity, one had to tackle crime. At Hofstra, Dr. Holzer is involved in two community-based research initiatives, Car-less Long Island and the Long Island Community Academic Research Partnership. Professor Aashish Kumar characterizes the need for nonprofit and civic organizations to promote themselves through digital and social media. He researched this challenge within local community organizations and identified a need for training that would allow them to maintain sustainable digital practices. Upon applying for and receiving a grant from the Long Island Community Foundation, Professor Kumar organized training sessions for 17 participants and intensive mentoring for four. The organizations went on to use digital and social media to advance their causes in robust ways. The work featured in this issue is a sampling of the research that connects Hofstra with the surrounding community in mutually beneficial ways. The Provost’s Office is proud to help our community partners pursue and conduct research that contributes to their sustainability and success.
Gail M. Simmons, PhD Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Hofstra University
Making a Difference Through Research â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Informed Advocacy, Community Building and Solidarity Gregory Maney, PhD Co-Director, Center for Civic Engagement Professor of Sociology and Harry H. Wachtel Distinguished Teaching Professor for the Study of Nonviolent Social Change, Hofstra University
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. identified six steps toward nonviolent social change. The first step is gathering information. Community-based research (CBR) is generally regarded as a collaborative project that involves community members in designing, conducting, analyzing, and/or using research to contribute to community empowerment. Rather than conducting research on a community, faculty and students are doing research with community members.
data based upon multiple perspectives, the development of theories with predictive power, and the wider distribution of findings to multiple publics.
There are mutual benefits to forming collaborative research partnerships. The ability of community-based organizations (CBOs) to achieve their goals often depends upon conducting rigorous research. At the same time, public and private funders of academic research are increasingly requiring faculty to partner with CBOs in order to enhance the impact of their awards. The collaborative research process involves iterative cycles of action and reflection. The pooling of academic and community knowledge and skills along with knowledge revision and additional skills results in many benefits beyond what conventional academic research typically provides. These benefits include socially relevant and accessible research, better informed interpretations of
As opposed to the academic researcher parachuting into a community, grabbing data, and never being heard from again, CBR requires a familiarity with the local context and sustaining relationships with those being studied. The CCE can assist faculty and students in this regard. We have deep, ongoing relationships with community-based organizations on the local, national, and even international levels, and will endeavor to connect you with groups that share your interests and can benefit from your skills. You can either contact us to facilitate a meeting or attend one of our Community Connections events, which provide networking opportunities that start you on the road to familiarity and trust.
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The Center for Civic Engagement calls upon all faculty, students, and community-based organizations interested in doing collaborative research to contact us to discuss resources and opportunities available. We particularly encourage research projects that hold the potential to deepen democracy, promote social justice and human rights, and ensure sustainability in the natural environment and communities.
In addition, CBR benefits from a variety of skills not likely to be possessed by one person alone. Skills that are frequently needed include the ability to conduct ethnographic research and other qualitative methods, environmental research, corporate and financial research, evaluative research, geo-spatial research, community health assessments, legal and legislative research, media and public opinion research, statistical analyses, and strategic planning. Here, too, the Center for Civic Engagement can be of assistance by drawing upon relevant resources at Hofstra and beyond to support your collaboration. Many faculty, students, administrators, staff, and alumni are already deeply engaged in communities. As a University-wide institute under the Office of the Provost, the CCE serves as a home for coordinating and synergizing these activities. So far I’ve only mentioned one of Dr. King’s six steps to nonviolent social change. The other steps are education, personal commitment, discussion/negotiation, direct action, and reconciliation. As with collaborative research, Hofstra University offers a wealth of tools to assist community-
based organizations in taking these additional steps. The CCE presents community groups with a tool kit of knowledge, skills, and resources that can be drawn from in the pursuit of measurable goals. In offering these tools, we hope to establish ongoing relationships with our community partners while assisting them in developing the capacities to independently conduct similar initiatives. Our most frequent Hofstra partners include the Center for Educational Access and Success, the Maurice A. Deane School of Law’s Community and Economic Development Clinic, Continuing Education, the Hofstra Cultural Center, the School of Health Professions and Human Services, Honors College, the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, the Office for Research and Sponsored Programs, and the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement. And this just scratches the surface of the resources available at Hofstra. Please contact the CCE to discuss becoming one of our community partners, and learn more about the specific tools you need to fulfill your dreams of a more just, fair and peaceful world.
Contact the Center for Civic Engagement Co-Directors: Gregory Maney • email@example.com Aashish Kumar • firstname.lastname@example.org Acting Co-Director 2016-2017 Yvonne Teems • email@example.com
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Center for Civic Engagement: Student Involvement With Community Partners AY 2016-2017
EAC Senior Nutrition Education & Food Services: The organization’s new Fresh from the Garden initiative provides food and cooking classes for seniors in an area void of grocery options. Hofstra students design a marketing campaign, recruit and enroll seniors in the program, and promote the initiative to the media. Greater Uniondale Area Action Coalition: The grassroots organization addresses issues facing Uniondale community members that relate to youth, business, safety, beautification, government, public transportation, housing and communication. Students attend weekly and monthly meetings, conduct research on the organization’s initiatives, and market and promote its events. Haitian American Family of Long Island Inc.: The organization, which works to link the Haitian American community with American society, offers workshops on cultural, social and health-related issues. Students coordinate workshops and write grants for the organization. Hempstead High School Initiative: In conjunction with the Liberty Partnerships Program and Hofstra University Honors College, the program connects Hofstra student tutors with approximately 40 students at Hempstead High School to offer eight to 12 hours per week of tutoring and mentoring. Herstory Writers Workshops: The nonprofit organization offers memoir writing workshops in Long Island communities, schools, hospitals, and jails and uses the power of story to enact social change. Students participate in weekly workshops with Long Beach High School students, learn how to become workshop facilitators through a facilitator training program, use stories to work on a campaign to raise the minimum age children can be sent to adult prisons in New York, write grants, and work on the organization’s digital archive.
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Homecoming Farm: The organic farm run by the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville grows and provides food to the hungry. Students promote the organization’s initiatives via social media, help with fundraising and grant writing, complete administrative tasks, and contribute new ideas to achieve the organization’s goals. Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives: The Long Island Alliance’s mission is to educate and foster dialogue on peace, war and nonviolence and to present alternatives to militarism. Students work with the LI Alliance to promote deliberative discussions about peace on campus. They were involved with the CCE and the LI Alliance in planning the Community Watch and panels during the 2016 presidential debate held at Hofstra. Long Island Wins: The nonprofit organization packages and promotes information related to immigration and fair immigration policy. Students write for the website (longislandwins.com), promote it through social media, and write grants for the organization. This year, students created programs to inform immigrant students about educational opportunities and to inform the public about immigration. Uniondale Chamber of Commerce: The nonprofit organization’s mission is to promote a strong and supportive environment for Uniondale’s businesses. Students promote the organization through social media, update its website (uniondalechamber.com), recruit and retain members, conduct research, maintain its membership list, and connect with relevant media and government entities. Uniondale Community Land Trust: The nonprofit organization’s mission is to provide affordable housing through a land trust model. Students complete administrative and marketing tasks, write grants, and streamline the organization’s structure by creating and managing committees.
CCE Resources Page: hofstra.edu/cceresources/orsp/orsp_policy_humansubjects.html
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History, Mission and Current Involvement of the
Community-Based Research Committee at Hofstra University Kari B. Jensen, PhD, Associate Professor of Global Studies and Geography, Hofstra University Jessica Holzer, PhD, Assistant Professor of Health Professions, Hofstra University
“Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches.” — Proverb, author unknown Community Engagement: What Is It and Why Do We Need It? In an era when evidence-based practice is becoming the standard in fields ranging from education to social work to health care, participation in evidence-generation is essential to being represented in practice. Additionally, in fields like engineering and computer science and other problem-solving fields, the problems that are identified and the solutions produced depend on the visibility and representation of problems and problem-solvers. This
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is at the core of community engagement at universities: including communities in identifying and prioritizing concerns, needs, and problems that universities can partner to address. Hofstra’s Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) leads the way in community engagement on campus, establishing relationships with community members and community organizations in the local area to address pressing needs. CCE takes a holistic approach to engagement, offering internships for
students to work with community organizations, providing forums for community members to be involved at Hofstra and benefit from our resources, and establishing support networks for faculty and students to be involved in the local community.
Community-Based Research Committee Five years ago, Professors Greg Maney and Mario Murillo, then co-directors of the CCE, and several members of the advisory board of CCE decided that we should form a committee on community-based
research. The first meeting of the committee, held in November 2011, included seven faculty and six students. The description of the committee’s mission was as follows: “The committee will locate, connect, and support Hofstra faculty either interested in or already engaged in communitybased research. Efforts will be made to involve Hofstra students, secure increased financial support, and develop opportunities for reflective lesson sharing.” Student interns of CCE reached out to faculty members on the committee, asking us to identify colleagues believed to have conducted community-based research. In line with definitions used by others, we defined community-based research as such: “Community-based research is generally regarded as a collaborative project that involves community members in designing, conducting, analyzing, and/or using research as well as attempts to contribute to community empowerment.” The interns then asked faculty members to fill out a brief survey drafted by the committee, answering questions about our primary research interests, and more specifically asking for a description of community-based research projects that we had been involved with.
Greg Maney organized a communitybased research committee lunch meeting where 11 faculty and one student participated. Everyone introduced their community-based research accomplishments and interests, and we discussed possible arenas for future cooperation and student involvement. We decided to start collecting resources of interest to anyone conducting community-based research, such as information on the Institutional Review Board (IRB), and resources from NSF and NEH. At our following meetings, we delegated work among our members, such as collecting material needed for a website on community-based research, which would be located under a dropdown menu option on the CCE website (hofstra.edu/cce). We worked with the then director of the IRB at Hofstra, Professor Richard O’Brien, to make sure we were informed about and could give our input on Hofstra procedures for research with human subjects, and we took advice from faculty with diverse experiences within the realm of
Hofstra’s Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) leads the way in community engagement on campus, establishing relationships with community members and community organizations in the local area to address pressing needs.
At our first meeting, several ideas for future events were discussed, such as holding a community forum, forming multi-faculty member projects around issues of shared interest, holding lunch meetings where interested faculty and students could network with community-based organizations, identifying community-based research projects beyond those conducted by Hofstra faculty that students could participate in, and evaluating CCEbased community partnerships. In the spring semester of 2012, Professors Margaret Abraham, Kari Jensen and
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community-based research locally and globally. Some members of our committee had heard other faculty express rather skeptical views, wondering whether the community-based research committee would be another “policing” institution similar to the IRB, to which we replied that our intent was rather to be a facilitator for community-based research for faculty and students, and to build a web-based resource that would guide and assist such research. We decided that our website should include resources such as links to the IRB at Hofstra, sample syllabi for courses with a community-based research component, template forms for informed consent, a list of Hofstra faculty conducting community-based research and a short description of their research projects, as well as a corresponding list of community-based organizations involved in research with our faculty and students, so as to protect our community partners from unproductive overlap among research projects and avoid misuse of their time
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and resources. Professor Christopher Niedt was instrumental in establishing the community-based research website at Hofstra, assisted by CCE graduate fellow Rhys Schneider. Since that time, the website has been maintained by other CCE graduate fellows and CCE directors, as well as the chairs of the community-based research committee.
Community Connections Dinner After the website was established, the committee began expressing a desire to organize a networking dinner event with community partners, i.e., representatives of local communitybased organizations. In the spring of 2016, the committee organized the first Community Connections Dinner in which about 40 community representatives, faculty, and students from Hofstra were involved. The dinner was sponsored by CCE, and we and Assistant Professor of Health Professions Martine Hackett were responsible for planning this event, assisted by CCE graduate fellow Ana Pinto.
At the dinner, Provost Gail Simmons welcomed all with a warm speech on the importance of Hofstra’s engagement with its neighbors in the areas adjacent to our campus. These areas are economically challenged compared to the hometowns of most of our faculty, students, and staff. Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches, so we approached this networking dinner as a forum to listen to each other, and first and foremost as an opportunity for faculty and students to listen to our guests from community-based organizations, so that we could learn what their needs are for cooperation with us. Jeannine Maynard, LCSW, co-facilitator of the Greater Uniondale Area Action Coalition (GUAAC), gave an inspiring PowerPoint presentation about how GUAAC and Hofstra faculty and students have cooperated to attain their common goal of empowering residents in Uniondale to have an increased voice in town and county decision making, providing a model for how good partnerships can improve the well-being of communities. After the welcome and presentations, community members at each table spoke about their organizations, their specific ongoing and past projects, and their needs for assistance from faculty and students. Messages we heard included the positive experiences community members and organizations had with Hofstra faculty, such as legal assistance from our Law School. But concerns were also raised about the need to establish lasting connections between community organizations and members, faculty, and Hofstra University as a whole. An interesting outcome of the dinner was that community organizations also had the opportunity to network among themselves and support one another’s mission.
Next Steps We have been in communication with several faculty and representatives of community-based organizations, following up in an attempt to link community-based organizations and faculty in a meaningful way. We continue to work to identify potential partnerships and to establish helpful infrastructure to facilitate those
partnerships’ success and sustainability. The creation of the position of vice provost for scholarship and engagement is a heartening development that we feel will improve the impact the committee can have across the University and with our community partners. Our mission is and will continue to be to provide support to faculty, community partners, and
students in their pursuit of equitable community-based research that is essential to the generation of new and valuable knowledge. At its heart, this is Hofstra University’s highest calling – and it should be the highest calling of any university.
Dr. Kari B. Jensen is an associate professor of geography and global studies at Hofstra University, where she just completed five years as chair of the CCE’s community-based research committee. She holds a PhD in geography from Pennsylvania State University and an MPhil and BA in human geography from the University of Oslo (Norway). Before she started her doctoral studies at Penn State, she worked for the immigration authorities in Norway and for a nongovernmental organization helping orphan children in Bangladesh attain an education. She has conducted research in Bangladesh intermittently over the last 20 years, focusing on the lived experiences of children from low-income households, including their work and access to education. Dr. Jensen’s research focuses on children who are domestic workers for wealthier families in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She emphasizes the cultural context of the children’s relationship with employers and the prospects for improving their quality of life through access to public and semi-public spaces where they can develop their social networks and seek help in cases of neglect and abuse. Dr. Jensen also explores the work that governmental and nongovernmental organizations do to help working children, in general, and child domestic workers, in particular. She uses different qualitative methodologies, such as discourse analysis, participant observation, and critical ethnography. Dr. Jensen has also conducted interview-based research on young people’s experiences with issues of cultural identity formation when being raised in Oslo or the metropolitan New York area by parents from South Asia. Her research has been published in several international peer-reviewed journals and reference books.
Dr. Jessica Holzer is an assistant professor of health professions at Hofstra University. She teaches courses in the areas of community health, health policy, and health research. She earned a PhD in health policy and management from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, an MA in bioethics from Case Western Reserve University, and a BA from Wellesley College. She is currently the chair of the CCE’s community-based research committee. Dr. Holzer has published in the areas of community engagement in research, obesity, and community health. Her research focuses on the well-being of communities. She has particular interests in physical activity and active transportation as mechanisms for wide-reaching community improvement. Dr. Holzer is a member of the Delta Omega Honor Society, Alpha Chapter; a founding board member of Car-less Long Island; and a founding member of the Long Island Community Academic Research Partnership (LICARP).
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The Real Deal? Community-Based Participatory Research and Peace Fellows:
the Search for Legitimacy A Visible Peace Community Emerges at Hofstra Martine Hackett, PhD, Assistant Professor of Health Professions, Hofstra University
“Show up. Dive in. Persevere.” — Barack Obama, 2017 “What am I doing here? Is this real research? I’m just hanging out, talking and listening.” That is what I thought to myself during my first experience with a community-based research project. It was the summer of 2012, and I was in Roosevelt, New York, sitting with a group of teenagers who worked at the local farmers market. At this point, we had been meeting regularly for a few weeks, and they were used to the routine. We were looking at and commenting on dozens of photographs that they had taken with their mobile phones of places within their community. The 12
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pictures were being projected onto a screen in a room in the basement of the Roosevelt Fire House, and I would ask, “What does this picture show?” and “Do we want to keep it?” Back and forth we went, and their comments sometimes would tumble out and overlap, and other times there was bored silence, and I had to know when to try and pull something out of them or when to quit. By the end of several weeks of work, we were able to come to an agreement on which pictures and comments they felt best represented the assets and areas for improvement in their community. It didn’t feel like research because at its core, this was
a natural conversation that had a purpose. And it was kind of fun. This community-based project used a participatory method called PhotoVoice, which works with a group of community residents to examine visually an issue of concern by going out and taking pictures of the assets and needs within the community (Wang & Burris, 1997). Participants go through an iterative process where they comment on what the photograph shows as it relates to the target issue. The photos are then displayed along with the captions and used by the community for
advocacy and addressing change, with the photos and the community members’ words as evidence and testimony. Over the course of about three months, I worked with the teens from the Roosevelt Farmers Market to create a display of their photos and their voices, which was presented by the students at a community meeting and dinner attended by local legislators, businesses and nonprofit organizations. Focusing on the assets and barriers in Roosevelt with regard to healthy food access and physical activity using a community-based approach allowed the young community members to address real-life concerns. They were proud of the work they had done, and the findings from the PhotoVoice project were used to address specific areas of change in Roosevelt. Even with all of that, as I looked back on the time and effort spent, I had to wonder: “What do I have to show for it?” For even though it felt valuable and worthwhile, I was still an assistant professor on the tenure track who had to produce scholarship. Did this really count? The level of academic research participation with community members runs on a continuum from traditional top-down approaches where the
Researchers design study and ask the community questions. Interventions placed in the community.
researchers are in charge to more inclusive and equitable models. (See below.)
Community-Placed to Community-Based: A Continuum for Engagement and Action
project used a participatory
Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is one of the most inclusive approaches to research, which takes “a collaborative approach that equitably involves ... community members, organizational representatives, and researchers in all aspects of the research process” (Israel, Schulz, Parker, & Becker, 1998). It is not a research method, but rather a way of approaching research that is based on the premise that community members have an expertise that is equal to that which researchers possess and that if research and action are to take place successfully within a community, its members must be involved from the beginning to the end. Specific research methodologies can be employed, from surveys to focus groups, using both quantitative and qualitative analysis. CBPR has been found to be particularly useful for public health-related topics to achieve health equity (Cacari-Stone, Wallerstein, Garcia, & Minkler, 2014).
which works with a group of
Community helps to identify issues and some responses. Researchers conduct, analyze and disseminate research and design interventions.
method called PhotoVoice, community residents to examine visually an issue of concern by going out and taking pictures of the assets and needs within the community (Wang & Burris, 1997).
Why is there a need for community-based research? Traditionally, the nature of healthrelated research is often viewed skeptically by members of communities of color in the United States. For example, there is a persistent lack of trust within the African American population, informed by the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, public health research that jeopardized the lives of hundreds of men –
Community involved in identifying research question and helps generate solutions based on findings. Researchers collect and analyze data, develop intervention based on suggestions.
Community defines the issue, collects and analyzes data, disseminates findings, develops interventions. Full collaboration at all stages.
From: A Short Guide to Community-Based Research
Less involvementf ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff More involvement Hofstra HORIZONS t Spring 2017
and still resonates over 40 years after it ended (Freimuth, Quinn, Thomas, Cole, Zook, & Duncan, 2001). In addition, past public health policies to sterilize Puerto Rican and African American women (Stern, 2005) and the medical mistreatment of American Indians (Warne & Frizzell, 2014) have fostered a general sense of mistrust between the researcher and the researched. In response to this top-down approach, there have been counter movements to rebalance the relationship, i.e., in the action research movement of Kurt Lewin in the 1940s and a circle of planning, action, and fact-finding about the result of the action; Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed in the 1970s that critiqued the concept that learning comes from instructors “depositing” thoughts into their students’ heads; and the disability rights activism in the 1980s and 1990s that popularized the slogan “Nothing About Us Without Us.” CBPR follows in this tradition and calls for expanding the spectrum of how researchers engage with communities. However, new challenges then surface. There are the ethical issues in terms of how much of someone else’s story is appropriate to share, even if it is for the good of expanding knowledge. There is 14
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a danger in reinforcing stereotypical perceptions of communities by “giving voice” to them. Academic researchers may simplify the positions of community members in presenting their stories to academic audiences. The power dynamics that are raised with questions around who controls the funding and other resources for the research projects can be a source of tension and stress. Faculty members can unknowingly carry baggage associated with the academic institution and past experiences that may have an effect on the interactions with community members. There is also a potential imbalance between those on the academic side, for whom engaging in the work is part of their profession, and community members, for whom this is extra, often uncompensated work that relies more on passion and perseverance than on promotion. Still, there are problems with not including the community perspective, particularly within public health, health care and medical research. Historically, the practice of public health has been seen as paternalistic, educating and promoting the “right” way that people should behave, which often varies from the traditional behaviors of community
members. A fitting example of this contrast between research findings and community perspective comes from when I worked at the New York City Department of Health on safe sleep initiatives to prevent infant deaths due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and suffocation. Though the recommendations based on research and policies were that infants should sleep in a safety-approved crib, we met with resistance from different groups of mothers. Some were committed to the practice of creating a family bed for parents and the baby. Others had to share a bed with their babies due to lack of space for a crib. Many mothers who wanted to breastfeed at night chose to have their babies sleep next to them. Some had cultural traditions where sharing the bed was the norm. Still others had unstable living arrangements or moved frequently and were at times unable to have a crib available. We realized that a one-size approach did not fit all and that to ensure that our messages on infant safety were received, we needed to understand the viewpoints of the people who were affected. This was the start of my interest in working with communities to find solutions to health problems. When I started as an assistant professor in the Department of Health Professions at Hofstra, I was drawn to using CBPR approaches to research but realized that I had a lot to learn. Some of what I learned was attained by diving in and just doing it, which is what I did for the Roosevelt PhotoVoice project. I also went on to take additional weeklong trainings over two summers – first with the Public Science Project at the CUNY Graduate Center and then at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. It was at these intense training sessions that I met other researchers who were interested in CBPR from around the country. I also met seasoned academics who have made CBPR their career and have
succeeded. They did not underestimate how difficult it was to take this path. It takes much longer for this type of research to develop compared to other types of public health research, and it also involves negotiation between community members on how to publish and present the results of CBPR work. At University of Michigan, I learned how its Detroit Community-Academic Urban Research Center set up processes for community members to be co-authors of peer-reviewed journal articles and presenters at professional conferences. They also developed procedures so that community partners could be equal partners in grant applications – a true measure of shared power by sharing the funding. What I learned from my training experiences was that CBPR is a valid method for research that is consistently validated by the awarding of millions of dollars in federal grants. Appreciation for community collaboration in research seems to be growing. The new journal Progress in Community Health Partnerships focuses on publishing communitybased participatory research, and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is a governmentsponsored organization that helps patients make more informed health care decisions and funds research that is guided by patients and health care providers. These are positive steps to validate the work of community-based
research as legitimate scholarship and not just service by tenure committees and funding agencies. I was even eventually able to publish a peerreviewed journal article on the results of the Roosevelt PhotoVoice project with two of the Roosevelt community members I worked alongside as co-authors (Hackett, Gillens-Eromosele, & Dixon, 2015). A key component within the participatory research approach is the recognition that the means are as important as the ends. As a process, participatory research demands flexibility to meet people where they are as well as patience to keep the goals in mind and the team on track over and over again. I have learned that simply being present within the community – at events, at celebrations, at public meetings – has given me a visceral connection to the people and the place that could not be achieved through prescribed research projects alone. Involving the community in the process enhances the overall quality and integrity of the research and results. Now, over four years from when I started doing CBPR, I can answer my own question – yes, this is real research. And it was worth it.
References Burns, J. C., Cooke, D. Y., & Schweidler, C. (2011). A Short Guide to Community-Based Research. Accessed at v5.healthycity.org/en/blog//
short-guide-community-basedparticipatory-action-research. Cacari-Stone, L., Wallerstein, N., Garcia, A. P., & Minkler, M. (2014), The promise of community-based participatory research for health equity: A conceptual model for bridging evidence with policy. American Journal of Public Health, 104(9), 1615-23. Freimuth, V. S., Quinn, S. C., Thomas, S. B., Cole, G., Zook, E., & Duncan, T. (2001). African Americans’ views on research and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Social Science & Medicine, 52(5), 797-808. Hackett, M., Gillens-Eromosele, C., & Dixon, J. (2015). Examining childhood obesity and the environment of a segregated, lower-income US suburb. International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare, 8(4), 247-259. Israel, B. A., Schulz, A. J., Parker, E. A., & Becker, A. B. (1998). Review of community-based research: Assessing partnership approaches to improve public health. Annual Review of Public Health, 19, 173-202. Stern, A. M. (2005). Sterilized in the name of public health: Race, immigration, and reproductive control in modern California. American Journal of Public Health, 95(7), 1128-1138. Wang, C. C., & Burris, M.A. (1997). PhotoVoice: Concept, methodology, and use for participatory needs assessment. Health Education & Behavior, 24(3), 369-87. Warne, D., & Frizzell, L. B. (2014). American Indian health policy: Historical trends and contemporary issues. American Journal of Public Health, 104(S3), S263-S267.
Dr. Martine Hackett is an assistant professor of health professions at Hofstra University. Her research interests include maternal-child health, health equity, suburban public health and community-based research, and she is the author of the book Back to Sleep: Creation, Conflict and Consequences of a Public Health Campaign. Her previous work experience includes serving as a deputy director at the New York City Department of Health’s Bureau of Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health and as a television producer. Dr. Hackett holds a BFA in film and television from New York University, a Master of Public Health from Hunter College, and a doctorate in sociology from the City University of New York Graduate Center. She lives in Uniondale on Long Island with her husband and two sons.
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A Visible Peace Community Emerges at Hofstra Andrea S. Libresco, EdD, Professor of Social Studies Education, Hofstra University Susan Cushman, PhD, Associate Professor of English, Nassau Community College Margaret Melkonian, Executive Director, Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives
“To know is to care, to care is to act, to act is to make a difference.” — Harry Chapin For the past four years, there has been a unique course offered on the Hofstra campus. There are no grades, but students attend every class and do a great deal of reading. They also attend events outside of class. You might have seen these students on campus, in their colorful T-shirts with the dove logo, or at an intergenerational, interfaith deliberative dialogue program called “Racism, Islamophobia, and the 2016 Election.” Or you may have heard them asking questions of participants at a variety of panels
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on Globalization Day. Perhaps you stopped by their table on Earth Day, or attended programs that some students were involved in organizing: “100% Human – A Showcase of Social Justice”; the Diversity Listening Dinner; and monthly sessions of Peace Matters, a new campus club. Possibly, you signed one of their petitions on accepting more Syrian refugees into the United States. Perhaps, you’ll join them, as they lobby U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice about the United States’ role in the war in Syria and the ensuing refugee crisis.
These students are the Hofstra Peace Fellows. They have been on campus since 2013, when the Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives, in collaboration with the Center for Civic Engagement, began the Peace Fellows program on Hofstra University’s campus to work cooperatively with young people on peace and social justice issues. The LI Alliance, founded on the 10th floor of Hofstra’s Axinn Library in 1985, has been working for over 30 years to educate and mobilize Long Islanders on the costs and consequences of war and militarism,
as well as on the goals of strengthening international cooperation, conflict resolution, and peacekeeping, so as to avoid military interventions. The LI Alliance advocates for reductions in military expenditures and the abolition of nuclear weapons, with the reallocation of resources going toward education, jobs, housing, health care, the environment, infrastructure, and other basic human needs. Many in the LI Alliance got started in the peace movement with their successful advocacy for the Test Ban Treaty in 1963 and for a nuclear freeze in the 1980s. As often happens with advocacy organizations that have been around for decades, though, members of the Alliance have recently found themselves asking, “Where are all the young people?” The Peace Fellows program has helped to provide the answer: Youth for peace are among us, but merely need an invitation and an opportunity. Each spring, the Peace Fellows education and issue advocacy program provides 9-15 students with $500 stipends. Thus, instead of having to take a minimum wage job, the Peace Fellows’ “work” is the study of peace, nonviolence, and alternatives to war and conflict, guided by the nonviolent social change movements of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. With the generous contributions of guest lecturers, drawn primarily from the Hofstra faculty (including Michael D’Innocenzo, Carolyn Eisenberg, David Green, Greg Maney, Martin Melkonian, and Mario Murillo), Fellows examine – and re-imagine – the United States’ role in the world, in recent history, in the 21st century and beyond, by exploring issues of human security and the global challenges of conflict, nuclear proliferation, poverty, and climate change.
When students become Peace Fellows, they understand that they are making a commitment of five hours per week for the duration of the 10-week program. Their responsibilities include reading materials; conducting additional research on issues; contributing in weekly two-hour discussion sessions; attending lectures and film nights; planning deliberative dialogue sessions; participating in trainings on issue advocacy; developing advocacy plans for on- and off-campus activities; maintaining a journal; and submitting a final written assessment of the program. The Peace Fellows program is designed with the principles of good curriculum and instruction in mind. As the National Council for the Social Studies suggests, teaching and learning are most authentic and powerful when they are meaningful, challenging, integrative, value-based and active. (NCSS, 2008) Thus, to be meaningful and challenging, the topics are structured around essential civic questions and sophisticated concepts and ideas: What are the costs and
... “Where are all the young people?” The Peace Fellows program has helped to provide the answer: Youth for peace are among us, but merely need an invitation and an opportunity.
consequences of war? What does peace look like? How formidable are the obstacles to peace? How should the United States approach its role in a changing world? To what extent does the United Nations resolve international conflicts and promote peace? What is human security? How much military spending is the right amount? What are the greatest existential dangers to the global community? Is it possible to eliminate nuclear weapons? How are
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• “I had never connected the levels of racism and classism to war, and [to] cycles of violence in general.” • “The author argues that the United States could provide clean water for everyone on Earth, cover reproductive health services for all women, give every person enough to eat, provide basic health care, and provide education for all people for only $40 billion, but instead the United States spends $200 billion for new fighter jets.” Moreover, several Fellows expressed frustration at not having been exposed to this material in their high school American History classes: climate change and peace issues interconnected? Do we get accurate information about these issues from the mainstream media? How can we engage people with different perspectives in meaningful, civil conversations about the vital issues of our time? What does effective advocacy look like? The course of study is integrative. It links past, present and future; the local and the global; the personal and political; and materials drawn from the arts, sciences, humanities, and current events. The pedagogy is value-based, engaging Fellows in experiences that develop fair-mindedness, serious consideration of opposing points of view, respect for well-supported positions, sensitivity to cultural similarities and differences, and a commitment to individual and social responsibility. We use the National Issues Forum materials that promote deliberative dialogue (NIF, 2014) by having participants “try on” positions and imagine what proponents and opponents of those positions might say. Participants discuss who is not in the room and how the discussion might be altered by their voices. Finally, the
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pedagogy is active, necessitating Fellows to process and think about the lectures, discussions, and rich and varied sources (including special speakers and events on campus); to research and report on issues; to make decisions; and to try to solve problems. It is clear from Fellows’ journals and evaluations that there is a need for curriculum and instruction in peace studies. More than one Fellow characterized the readings as “profoundly eye-opening.”
The topics that Fellows most often mentioned as new and important included the destructive power and danger of nuclear weapons; the connections of militarism and war to other issues; and the military budget and its priority over lifeenhancing social programs: • “This made me acknowledge more topics that I had not contemplated previously ... especially the seriousness of nuclear weaponry.” • “I have descended into the hell of imagining what a nuclear war would be like, and I am now very inclined to put forth the effort of stopping it from happening.”
• “‘War Doesn’t Work’ was just packed with information that a public school history education never gave me.” • “I had never read one of Dr. King’s speeches in its entirety before this week. The power of his words really made my heart swell, and so much of what he was saying is still applicable today, especially the concept of environmental racism.” • “In my AP U.S. History course in high school ... we never made it past the Cold War era, so I am definitely lacking in more recent history [like Vietnam].”
The Fellows reported being inspired to follow up on topics: • “After the meeting, I did some research on my own, only to discover there were literally only two years during my lifetime when the United States was not bombing a nation or actively engaged in war. In my 20 years on this Earth, I have truly never known a time of peace, which is definitely a difficult fact to swallow.” • “I ... plan on paying closer attention to the Syrian refugee crisis and the general role the U.S. is playing on the international stage. ... This program
has shown me that I have a lot more to learn about foreign policy, and it is vitally important to understand what is going on.” The skills for discussing course topics were new, as well.
Each of the Fellows commented on the usefulness of learning the process of deliberative dialogue: • “Deliberation teaches me to be more patient and to sometimes distance myself from my own ideology and convictions and, rather, just discuss an issue neutrally.” • “I’m still going to cry when I get really frustrated about things ... but Peace Fellows has helped give vocabulary to the tears.” • “Previous to this meeting, any time I was confronted with an opinion different than my own ... that conversation would basically either turn into a debate or argument, and no one would take anything from that discussion. I would almost immediately shut down and label an
opinion as wrong, unenlightened, or simply absurd, and never bother to learn or talk more about it. I realize now, however, that it is important to create an actual dialogue ... ”
Others talked about the importance of having the skills to analyze the mainstream media: • “The media’s intent is to generate views and profit from those views, so ... what is [deemed] newsworthy is narrowed down to meet that, resulting in the ‘casualty quotients,’ which is that one freshman killed in off-campus housing [is] covered over the 15,000 killed in a Honduras mudslide.” • “Honestly, I have never given much thought to just how powerful the media can be at molding minds one way or another.” • “I was surprised to learn that the U.N. investigation of the use of sarin gas in Syria did not (and could not) explicitly identify which group actually used chemical weapons,
despite the U.S. government widely claiming it was the Syrian government. This is an important reminder to follow up on stories, even when they’re no longer in the mainstream media.”
Almost all of the Fellows talked about the importance of having found community: • “I now have a network of peace activists on campus who I feel so close to and would not have without this program.” • “I really like the community that this group of Fellows has created; our Facebook group is something I look forward to checking every day so I can see what [issues] people are interested in.”
All of the Fellows were grateful for learning the skills and possibilities of advocacy: • “Now I have so many tools to do activism at Hofstra and beyond.” • “This is empowering to think about – that we don’t have to apathetically
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... the Institute for Peace Studies at the Center for Civic Engagement looks forward to launching a major in peace and conflict studies in fall 2018 ...
sit back and wait for those with money, power or political positions to announce that things will change. ... We can try to accomplish the impossible every day, until it becomes possible, until it becomes reality.” • “Grassroots movements of civil disobedience and disruption can have a far more profound effect than one may believe. A small group of critical citizens, who disagree with the status quo and aim to educate others in creative ways, can start a revolution.” • “I love the idea that Hofstra has been a channel for peace for decades, and that I am one of many peaceful student activists trying to make a difference. This session gave me hope.” • “ [Kate Alexander from Peace Action NYS] made me feel like I could put all of the amazing things I’d learned this semester into action. She made me feel like I could consider activism a serious career, and that I could be a serious adult who was an activist.” • “This session motivated me to really start being more active on campus. Because it is one thing to be on
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eboard, to be in Peace Fellows, to talk to people and care about issues. But it is another thing to really go out and try to make a change ... Next year, I really want to focus on getting the school store to sell fair-trade products ... I now know the resources, the strategies and the people to do so. Most importantly, I now also have the courage, I have the belief that activism works and the hope that I am indeed powerful, if not by myself, then in a network of many people demanding and dreaming of change.” • “I loved working on the petitions ... and walking around to get signatures! It was so exciting and it felt like I was really involved in something that is much bigger than myself.”
Clearly, Fellows regarded this course as an awakening: • “This program changed my life ... [it] made me feel like my voice is valid. I gained confidence to speak out for peace and justice, and I now have the tools to do so more eloquently. I cannot wait to continue to work for peace and justice for the rest of my life.” • “Everything we’ve done has increased my awareness about my surroundings.”
Ultimately, Fellows were eager for The Peace Fellows Program to be extended and institutionalized: • “I would make it a yearlong program instead of a semester. I really think more time would not only allow [us] to dive deeper, but also for the Fellows to grow closer and create a stronger peace community at Hofstra.” • “I hope the Peace Action Matters club becomes a solid thing around campus. I’m really looking forward to being a part of it and continuing
the relationships I’ve been able to build through Peace Fellows.” • “In every single history class I have ever taken, so much time was spent teaching war ... I cannot recall a single instance of being taught about any peace movements at all, outside of a brief lecture on Martin Luther King’s peaceful protests. There are so many major peace movements, such as the Vietnam War protests, that just were not taught. The United States was always constructed as a military force in my history classes, never a peaceful one. By teaching students about war, it is just a perpetual cycle of promoting violence ... This is why I’m looking forward to the Peace Studies program coming. ... Being educated on peace and humanity is just so important.” In response to these needs — voiced by dozens of students since Peace Fellows’ inception — the Institute for Peace Studies at the Center for Civic Engagement looks forward to launching a major in peace and conflict studies in fall 2018, which will include core courses, electives, internships, and a capstone seminar. Thus, the Institute for Peace Studies can make Hofstra University a key player in constructively transforming local, national and transnational conflicts ranging from hate crimes and gang violence to terrorism and warfare. The institute will also provide our students and communities with the attitudes, knowledge and skills necessary to handle disputes arising in a variety of organizational settings. One of the Peace Fellows wrote in her journal, “there were sessions that I left feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, but mostly, I left feeling hopeful and excited about the future and the change that my peers and I hope to create.”
She was probably talking about taking future political action, but her enthusiasm and commitment, and that of the other Fellows, are already supporting curricular change in her university community. Another Fellow closed her evaluation with the statement, “Wars end when educated and informed citizens demand them to. Through activism, we can achieve peace and equality. We
can shift the paradigm if we come together and work for a better world.” Indeed, if these and future peace studies students do even a fraction of what they say they wish to accomplish, our program was — and will continue to be — a success. Veteran peace activists of the Long Island Alliance can’t help but feel that the movement for a more just and peaceful world is in good hands.
References: National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). (2008). A Vision of Powerful Teaching and Learning in the Social Studies: Building Social Understanding and Civic Efficacy. Retrieved from http://www.socialstudies.org/positions/ powerful National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI). (2014). Deliberation. Retrieved from https://www.nifi.org/en/ deliberation
Dr. Andrea S. Libresco is professor of social studies in the School of Education, director of the civic education minor, assistant director of the Peace Fellows program, and on the advisory board of the Center for Civic Engagement at Hofstra University. She graduated from Swarthmore College with a major in history and a minor in political science, and earned a Master of Arts in teaching from Brown University and a doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has taught social studies from kindergarten through the doctoral level, has been involved in teacher preparation for over 25 years, and was named Hofstra’s Distinguished Teacher of the Year in 2005. She has written on a variety of topics, including standardized testing, exemplary social studies teachers, children’s literature, civic engagement, and women’s history. She co-wrote Every Book Is a Social Studies Book: How to Meet Standards With Picture Books, K-6 and co-edited Exemplary Elementary Social Studies: Case Studies in Practice. She just completed a five-year term as co-editor (with former student Jeannette Balantic) of the national journal Social Studies and the Young Learner. In accordance with her commitment to civic engagement, she is past president of the Nassau Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union and president of the Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives. Most important, she tries to live Harry Chapin’s maxim, “To know is to care, to care is to act, to act is to make a difference.”
Dr. Susan Cushman is associate professor of English at Nassau Community College and is teaching a peace studies course; she was a guest lecturer in the Hofstra Peace Fellows program in 2016. She holds a BA from Rider University, an MA from Rutgers University-Camden, and a PhD from Lehigh University.
Margaret Melkonian is executive director of the Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives, a community partner of the Center for Civic Engagement, and currently volunteers as director of the Peace Fellows program. Ms. Melkonian studied fine arts at Hunter College and is a graduate of Hofstra University. She lives in Uniondale with her husband, Martin, who teaches economics at Hofstra University.
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Community-Based Research: Experience and Evaluation
Jessica Holzer, PhD, Assistant Professor of Health Professions, Hofstra University
“Projects will succeed when universities approach communities with the attitude, not of telling others what to do, but rather opening their hands and saying, ‘this is what we have to share.’ “ — Juan Leyton, Community Organizer, Neighbor to Neighbor, in Chile and U.S. Community-Based Research Research, especially that conducted within universities and colleges, is aimed at generating knowledge to help move the human race forward. This is true across disciplines, from the humanities to the sciences. In the health sciences, in particular, research is essential for developing everything from community-based gun violence prevention programs to new and more effective cancer drugs. In “traditional” health research, researchers identify a topic or agenda based on their interests, on the state of the science and the 22
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work of others, and on the funding or organizational priorities in their field. While this strategy has produced the amazing breakthroughs in health we have experienced to date, researchers and others are becoming increasingly aware of the limitations of this “traditional” model. One such limitation is the amount of time it takes for successful research findings to be translated into practice in communities and clinics. Though estimates vary, a time lag of 17 years has been widely reported in
the health literature. That means that from the point of a demonstrated benefit of a new drug or practice, it can take up to 17 years for practitioners, such as doctors, nurses, and social workers, to begin employing the drug or practice. For those 17 years, patients may be receiving less-than-optimal care; potentially lifesaving resources may be unavailable; and unnecessary costs, both human and financial, may accrue. Shortening this time lag has become a priority for the National Institutes of Health and other research-funding organizations
whose missions include improving health and welfare. A further limitation of the “traditional” model of research lies in the way topics are identified for study. In the “traditional” model, the researcher and their team, the funding agency, and the organization may all have input into the research priorities, but there is little or no avenue for the broader community to voice their priorities and have them met by research. This lack of equity in the research process can lead to research on topics of concern to researchers, but not high priorities in communities. At its best, this means there may be a missed opportunity for communities to lend their expertise to the research process, but at its worst, it can lead to abusive and harmful research that takes communities and their members for granted. Examples of abuse range from the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study to the more recent example of the Havasupai American Indian tribe. In the Tuskegee study, black sharecroppers in Macon County, Alabama, were
deceived and manipulated for 40 years, during which time the United States Public Health Service observed the effects of untreated syphilis on their health without regard to the implications on them, their families and the wider community. In 1989 members of the Havasupai tribe in Arizona gave their blood to learn more about diabetes mellitus. Their blood was then unknowingly used to research schizophrenia, inbreeding, and migration, topics with strong personal and cultural taboos for the tribe. These cases are examples of the most egregious forms of abuse communities face in the name of scientific inquiry, but many communities, especially communities of color and those suffering under poverty, have experienced research that uses them as participants but does not view them as partners. That means the priorities of communities are often neglected, findings from the research are never disseminated to the communities, and the most pressing needs in the communities remain unaddressed.
In the health sciences, in particular, research is essential for developing everything from community-based gun violence prevention programs to new and more effective cancer drugs.
As a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut, I experienced this disconnect firsthand. I was and have long been interested in increasing physical activity in communities suffering from high rates of diabetes, obesity and heart disease. New Haven, where the poorest neighborhoods have rates of diabetes twice the national average, seemed like
Example of problematic crossings on Long Island that Car-less Long Island seeks to document and address.
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Car-less Long Island Inaugural Bike-to-Work Parade, May 7, 2016.
an excellent target for my research. In the process of trying to understand why New Haven residents were not physically active, I learned that in some neighborhoods as many as 70 percent of people feel unsafe leaving their house after dark, and 30 percent do not feel safe outdoors during the day. Lack of adequate lighting, violence, illicit drug use and trafficking were some of the reasons cited by community members for not feeling comfortable being outside their homes, and being physically active, in their neighborhoods. Suddenly, to address physical activity, I needed to focus on violence reduction. I was lucky that I had been prepared by my training to make such a pivot. But in many cases, researchers do not know how or do not feel equipped to make such a striking change in their research priorities.
Initiating an Interest in Community-Based Research My interest in community-based research began during my doctoral studies at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the Health Policy and Management Department, where my concentration was in 24
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bioethics and policy. My interest in ethics sharpened my desire to examine the intersection between research and justice. At the time, the National Institutes of Health had begun the Clinical and Translational Science Award program, which provided multimillion-dollar grants to universities and research institutions for the creation of translational institutes. The purpose was to address the time lag limitation of “traditional” research mentioned above. A key component, therefore, was a community engagement core team and a plan for how the university would engage communities and create partnerships to facilitate the performance and translation of community-based research. For my doctoral work, I evaluated the proposals universities made in their funding applications, and I compared them to the actual practices the universities committed to for the five years of their funding. I found that the proposed work was usually much more optimistic than the work that was actually completed. These universities, some of the most renowned in the
world, spent much of their five years developing the capacity to conduct research with communities. They focused on educating faculty members on how to do engaged research in respectful and equitable ways, and they devoted considerable resources to teaching interested community members about what research is and what the process demands of researchers and partners. By the end of the first five years of funding from the NIH, most of the universities were just ready to begin the hard work of sustained engagement in research.
Community-Based Research at Hofstra I was excited to come to Hofstra, in part because I saw the Center for Civic Engagement as a resource to overcome exactly the limitations I had seen at universities during my doctoral studies. Now, with the appointment of Dr. Bob Brinkmann as vice provost for scholarship and engagement, I’m more excited than ever at the prospect of Hofstra leading the way in engaged research and teaching. Already, in my two years at the University, I have had the opportunity to work with fellow faculty to develop community-based research projects. The first, Car-less Long Island, of which I am a board member, is a nonprofit organization started by Dr. Sylvia Silberger, chair of Hofstra’s Math Department. The organization’s goal is to improve resources for active transportation, such as walking, biking and busing, on Long Island. We held our inaugural Bike-to-Work Parade in May 2016, in conjunction with Hofstra’s Dutch Festival and with the support of the University. Over the summer, with grant support from the Provost’s Office and the School of Health Professions and Human Services, I worked with Car-less Long Island to rate and catalog the state of pedestrian and cyclist
will be the first step in identifying the health needs and priorities of Roosevelt, which will help the partnership identify topics for research and intervention.
The Hempstead Hub Bike Path, a great resource for getting around Hofstra, Nassau Community College and the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
infrastructure along Sunrise Highway. The project is expanding to other parts of Long Island, with a Girl Scout troop in New Hyde Park considering doing its own rating project, and new corridors being identified within Nassau County. I have also been working with Dr. Martine Hackett of the Hofstra Department of Health Professions; Dr. Tomeka Robinson of the Hofstra Department of Rhetoric; Jacob Dixon, CEO of Choice for All; and representatives from Sustainable Long Island and NuHealth on a new community-based participatory research initiative, the Long Island
Community Academic Research Partnership (LICARP). With support from the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, and involvement of community members throughout Roosevelt, we have begun a health needs assessment of the neighborhood. We have invited Roosevelt residents from many demographics (over 65, parents, recent immigrants, and youth) to describe in focus groups what their health needs are, where they receive health care, and what resources they feel the community needs. Trained high school students have served as focus group note takers and leaders. The findings
It has been gratifying to begin my career at an institution that values community-engaged research. I am excited to continue working with Car-less Long Island and LICARP to identify solutions for some of the most pressing health needs affecting our county and communities on Long Island. I look forward to seeing where Hofstra is in five and 10 years, how we have partnered with our communities, how we have put our resources to good use locally, and how we have created a better future for our communities, our students, our faculty, and all of Long Island.
Long Island Community Academic Research Partnership, a communitybased participatory research project developed by Dr. Martine Hackett, Hofstra assistant professor of health professions, and Mr. Jacob Dixon, CEO of Choice for All.
Dr. Jessica Holzer is an assistant professor of health professions at Hofstra University. She teaches courses in the areas of community health, health policy, and health research. She earned a PhD in health policy and management from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, an MA in bioethics from Case Western Reserve University, and a BA from Wellesley College. She is currently the chair of the CCEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s community- based research committee. Dr. Holzer has published in the areas of community engagement in research, obesity, and community health. Her research focuses on the well-being of communities. She has particular interests in physical activity and active transportation as mechanisms for wide-reaching community improvement. Dr. Holzer is a member of the Delta Omega Honor Society, Alpha Chapter; a founding board member of Car-less Long Island; and a founding member of the Long Island Community Academic Research Partnership (LICARP).
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in Community Organizing and Advocacy Aashish Kumar, MS, MFA, MA, Associate Professor of Radio, Television, Film, Hofstra University
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead Note: Videos, photographs, and other documents pertaining to the project can be accessed through the project’s website at http://klynt.embersfilms.com/ and https://commediahofstra. wordpress.com/. The social media timeline of the project can be seen at http://facebook.com/ CommMediaHofstra
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Problem Statement Community-based nonprofit organizations operate in the crucial public sphere of service-delivery, connecting ordinary citizens with larger public projects, negotiating community rights on behalf of underrepresented populations, and organizing at the grassroots level to address gaps in our existing servicedelivery infrastructure. In the last decade this sector has grown 25 percent nationally,1 while here on Long Island it has increased by 32 percent.2 During this same period, the economy has spiraled into a
recession, creating monumental budgetary and fundraising challenges for nonprofits. A related trend in the communication industry has added its own layer of complexity: Massive centralization and consolidation of print and electronic media industry have reduced news media’s local community footprint.3 At the same time a steady movement toward a “digital culture of public participation” has necessitated that organizations develop their own capacities in communicating within and outside their constituent
communities. Given these dual pressures of enhancing their digital presence in order to survive in a tightening funding environment, it seems relevant to ask: How prepared are civil society institutions to communicate their effectiveness and impact to a wider society by deploying the tools of the modern information age? One of the measures of this preparedness is to examine how nonprofits allocate their scarce resources in communication-related and media initiatives. In a 2011 study 4 of 160 Long Island nonprofit organizations conducted by Hofstra University Public Relations Professor Jeffrey Morosoff, almost 90 percent of respondents indicated that less than 5 percent of their budgets were devoted to carrying out public relations (PR) campaigns. The bulk of these services, the study noted, is carried out almost entirely by “internal staff” and “volunteers or board volunteers.” The majority (60-70 percent) of those handling these functions are without the relevant background and training. Ken Cirini, partner at the accounting firm Cerini & Associates (specialists in the nonprofit sector), is cited in the survey as saying: “In a climate where the nonprofit sector has been hit hard with negative press and changes in regulation, now is the time for nonprofits to make their voices heard ...” He emphasizes that nonprofits need to consider how to utilize both traditional and social media channels to get their message out. In an informal email survey conducted by the author, a constant refrain from the leadership of these organizations highlights the uphill task that each of them faces in this endeavor — whether it has to do with resources to produce media or to train members in creating
interactive, participatory media.5 Rahsmia Zatar, executive director of S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth, a Long Island gang and youth violence intervention and prevention organization, states: “We don’t have the knowledge of what it takes to create a successful media program, and the resources for getting that information are very scarce on Long Island. ... Art and media empower our youth by providing them with safe outlets to express their voices.” Jeannine Maynard, community-based organizer for GUAAC (Greater Uniondale Area Action Coalition), comments: “We are challenged by the large number of community meetings our members respond to, impacting time management and significant points of information that we need to communicate effectively to the neighborhood. The proposed media training [by the author] will maximize our capacity to advance our mission and also address those critical needs.” Maggie Hoffman, speaking for Project DOCC (Delivery of Chronic Care), laments, “We have been at the mercy of either volunteers or highpriced consultants to develop an online presence; neither has been successful! ... Social media is essential to our mission — giving voice.” There is an incredible wealth of such resources and expertise in the numerous higher educational institutions that call Long Island their home. Hofstra University (through its Center for Civic Engagement),
How prepared are civil society institutions to communicate their effectiveness and impact to a wider society by deploying the tools of the modern information age?
following in the tradition of other engaged campuses such as Trinity College, has formed collaborative relationships with its local communities in areas as diverse as public education, gang violence, affordable housing, and quality health care. According to a Center for Civic Engagement publication, “being a suitable partner to local communities requires ... identifying and bringing on board faculty, administrators, and staff in all academic units who possess
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Analyzing analytics with Jamie Cohen. Sprout Social workshop for community-based organizations.
knowledge, skills, and experiences in collaborating with community organizations.” In keeping with this notion, the author founded a course titled “Media Action Projects, Hofstra” within The Lawrence Herbert School of Communication’s Radio, Television, Film Department. This course partners senior television students with community organizations to produce strategic media campaigns that benefit the community partners. Over the past seven years, this has resulted in fruitful outcomes for over 25 Nassau and Suffolk county as well as metropolitan New York area nonprofits, including Literacy Nassau, Workplace Project, Head Start Long Island, Family and Children’s Association of Long Island, Nassau County Police Department, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Hour Children, Great Neck Arts Center, Huntington Historical Society, HorseAbility and Fresh Air Fund. However, by their sheer nature, these projects often tend to be temporary solutions with little or no follow-up built-in. The nonprofit partner is often left where it started — without that vital internal capacity to produce “community media.” 28
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Project Background The author secured a $25,000 grant from the Long Island Community Foundation to launch a community media training and facilitation project in the 2014-2015 academic year. The aim of this project was to alleviate the increasing burden on community-based organizations of managing their information and communication needs by providing training and support for electronic media access. The project design envisioned (a) transferring electronic media production expertise from Hofstra University to the community partners and (b) maintaining a window of support until the community partners could successfully implement their community media projects on their own. The following plan activities were implemented during the grant period: Phase I: Training was provided within the first six months to 17 nonprofit organizations in a series of workshops conducted over two days by Hofstra University faculty and students from the Herbert School. Workshops were designed to have the nonprofit participants prioritize their specific
communication needs and conceptualize a pilot community media project. Each participating nonprofit received a one-year subscription to a social media management tool (e.g., Sprout Social or Hootsuite). Phase II: These projects were further developed at the four nonprofit sites using a participatory media methodology over the course of six months following the workshops. During this phase graduate students under faculty supervision assisted community organizations in actualizing “media milestones” conceived during the initial training workshops. Organizations assessed their own needs to identify what milestone they wished to target. Some identified the production of an actual participatory media project, while others conceptualized knowledge-transfer of web-based media technologies to their staff.
Project Timeline February/March 2014: After distributing a Qualtrics survey in February/March 2014 to over 45 area nonprofits and community-based organizations, we received responses from 17 organizations that wished to participate in the training and collaboration on creating community media. Survey questions delineated areas of need, preparedness, current use, and commitment to using electronic media in community-related work. Organizations were also asked to identify if they would be willing to work with Hofstra faculty and students in a longer-term capacity. A daylong workshop was planned for these organizations for April 2014. Three graduate students and a program coordinator were hired to conduct training and prepare documentation during the grant period.
April 4, 2014: A daylong session titled “Workshop on Electronic Media in Community Organizing and Advocacy” was conducted with 30 representatives from 17 participating organizations. The workshop featured introductory sessions presented by Professors Aashish Kumar and Mario Murillo on the historical use of video, radio, and new media in community work. In the post-lunch session, Professor Jeff Morosoff discussed how online tools could provide a low-cost way for organizations to reach community members, funders, and policy planners. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, WordPress, and YouTube were used to illustrate advocacy through social media. The final session of the day focused on how organizations could prepare for building their internal capacity in electronic and social media work. The grant objectives and methods for achieving them were elaborated. Participants brainstormed ways in which they could incorporate electronic media work in their ongoing projects with an eye toward developing autonomy and self-sufficiency. All participants voiced their opinion that the ability to tell one’s own story is both empowering and connective. Graduate and undergraduate students helped shoot cellphone videos of the sessions and interviewed participants. As the day wore on, these videos were uploaded to YouTube and edited utilizing a free, online tool called the YouTube Video Editor. At the end of the day, these videos were shown to the participants to emphasize how effective and economical modern electronic media technology has become. April/May/June 2014: A second Qualtrics survey was circulated among the 17 workshop participants to gauge their interest in participating in a six- to eight-month period of facilitation and
training with Hofstra students and faculty to build their internal capacity for undertaking electronic and social media projects. Of the 12 organizations that responded, four were short-listed for a one-on-one interview/planning meeting with faculty and graduate students. On June 5, 2014, we met with representatives from Long Island Wins, GUAAC, Project DOCC, and S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth to prepare for the next phase of site-based training and facilitation of participatory video projects. All participants were asked to submit concrete ideas for a project. June 17, 2014: A half-day workshop on utilizing social media and in particular Sprout Social, a platform for integrating and tracking an organization’s various social media activities, was conducted by the author, a social media expert, and Hofstra adjunct faculty member Jamie Cohen. Accounts and licenses were set up for all participating organizations. August 29, September 19, October 24, November 14, November 21, November 25, 2014; January 16, 2015: Site-based training or workshops were conducted either at Hofstra or at the community partner’s location to help them move forward with their participatory video/social media projects. Three organizations (Long Island Wins, S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth, and Project DOCC) initiated self-guided projects working with immigrant communities, middle school youth, and families, respectively.
Outcomes and Measures The project’s aim was to assist grassroots organizations in attaining an evolving self-sufficiency in producing their own media as well as allowing their community members to participate in storytelling.
We achieved our initial goal of introducing the concept of participatory communication and social media dynamics to the 17 organizations that attended our inaugural workshop. The videotaped interviews with participants, as well as the feedback and energy created by the event, were a testament to the deeply felt need for such training and investment in the participatory potential of the medium. We provided social media training and a Sprout Social workshop and yearlong licenses to 12 organizations. A midyear assessment was circulated among the organizations to find out to what degree these organizations were able to incorporate Sprout Social in their ongoing work. All the organizations that reported indicated that a staff or intern had been utilizing the analytics aspect of Sprout Social, though not as much its broadcasting/multichannel posting capabilities. Finally, by working closely with organizations and helping them conceptualize and apply participatory communication practices, we succeeded in establishing four pilot projects with tracking updates from the organizations.
The Future: Transformative Change and Lessons Learned We are truly proud of how the organizations listened carefully to our plans for participatory communication and were slowly able to reorient their own practice of media to allow their membership to participate. Long Island Wins contributed its video cameras and editing equipment to help two young arrivals from Latin America tell their story of persecution in their home country and the anxiety of the asylum-seeking process in the United States. The organization has already deepened its know-how in filming and
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editing and is hoping to expand such storytelling to its constituents. S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth has initiated a new program at Turtle Hook Middle School in Uniondale, New York, to have students plan, script, and produce a story about a social issue. A half-hour documentary on their experiences was completed and screened for the public in early 2015. Project DOCC successfully migrated its website to a more user-friendly web environment using WordPress, with the assistance of project faculty and students. The organization is working to create blogging sites for family members who wish to share narratives of children with chronic health care needs with the wider community of health care providers and policy planners. The response to the workshops and to participatory communication concepts clearly indicated to us that much more needs to be done in this regard. We are exploring co-op course models, future grants, and institutional support for graduate assistantships that can help continue and sustain the success of the first grant.
While it is too early to note any type of policy change as a result of these fledgling efforts, we remain convinced that the seeds of change will have an impact on how these organizations are able to help their communities become empowered through the sharing of their stories. There were several important take-away lessons for both project faculty and the community partners. On our part, we learned that grassroots organizations are slow in reorienting and redirecting their resources to electronic media work in the short term. However, once such work becomes integrated with their core mission, they are better able to respond to the demands of such work. Another lesson was that organizations must have the necessary technical capacity, staffing, and responsiveness to take on training and participatory work. If we were to do this project over again, an important change would be to mention in the preliminary survey that media training requires an ongoing weekly commitment on the part of the partner organization. We would also ensure that funding would target
human resources more than technical resources and software, since without the personnel available to provide site-based training, the latter remained underutilized.
NOTES: 1 The Nonprofit Almanac 2012, Urban Institute, http://www.urban.org/ nonprofits/index.cfm 2 Long
Island’s Not-for-Profit Sector: Doing More With Less During a Period of Economic Change, LICF, 2011
to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Media Economics (“Does Ownership Matter? Localism, Content, and the Federal Communications Commission,” JME, volume 23, issue 2), consolidated media ownership negatively affects the production of local content on local newscasts.
colleges/soc/soc_jeffrey_morosoff. html 5 Participatory
media is a set of techniques to involve community groups in creating and shaping their own media.
Associate Professor Aashish Kumar teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in documentary, collaborative/community-based media production, interactive media, and television studies in the Radio, Television, Film Department at Hofstra University. He also serves as co-director for Hofstra University’s Center for Civic Engagement, a University institute designed to educate students in democratic values by actively engaging them as knowledgeable citizens in collaborative partnerships with their campus, local, state, national, and global communities. Professor Kumar is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and social action scholar whose work turns a spotlight on issues such as emerging democracies, social stigmas, globalization, migration, civic engagement, and grassroots advocacy. Most recently he was awarded a Fulbright Specialist grant to spend six weeks this summer in Durban, South Africa, working with media students and faculty in developing strategies for grassroots community media work. In 2008 he received a Fulbright Senior Scholar award, which allowed him to spend a semester in India teaching graduate documentary students and working on his documentary film on reverse migrants. Currently Professor Kumar is working on an interactive documentary on the LGBTQ+ experiences of South Asian American millennials and their families.
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