From July 31 to August 2nd, 2019, we welcomed 34 fellows for our inaugural summer institute to the University of California, Berkeley, campus to gain understanding of and build skills in practicing engaged scholarship. Organizations represented by Summer Institute Fellows included Bay Rising, Black Youth Project 100, Common Cause, Community Change Action, Food Chain Workers Alliance, Inspire U.S., Migrante, Momentum, Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, Syracuse Police Accountability and Reform Coalition, Survived & Punished, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Warehouse Worker Resource Center, and the Worker Justice Center of New York.
In building this cohort of fellows, scholars and organizers who had already formed a researcher-practitioner partnership could apply to attend together to develop their understanding of how to design and manage collaborative projects. But one of the most unique aspects of the Summer Institute was our intensive matching process for researchers and practitioners who applied without a pre-existing relationship, who were paired up based on mutual interests, desired skills, and other relevant factors. They emerged from the institute with a concept for a collaborative project.
The program kicked off Thursday morning with keynote talks by Manuel Pastor and Marshall Ganz, who spoke to the importance of building local capacity and a supportive movement infrastructure in pursuing effective collaborative research to improve democratic organizing practices.
In the afternoon, the fellows split into two groups and headed down to the offices of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network and Oakland Rising for a learning module to practice working together on a real problem faced by a social movement organization. Sessions were led by CDO co-PI Lisa García Bedolla and Graduate Student Researcher Rachel Williams, a Ph.D. candidate at the Graduate School of Education.
Workshop sessions on Friday led by co-PIs Hahrie Han and Taeku Lee, Postdoctoral Scholar Nicole Willcoxon, and Graduate Student Researcher Christian Hosam delved deeper into practical information on building collaborative relationships and research project design. After breaking out for two hours of intensive collaboration with their partners, all 16 researcher-practitioner pairs gave brief presentations on their proposed research question and design, receiving feedback from other fellows and CDO staff. The quality of all of these presentations, including the generative ideas from pairs matched by CDO, was testimony to the efficacy of our innovative approach to facilitating engaged scholarship.
All Summer Institute Fellow pairs are eligible to apply for seed grants of up to $5000 to put their research designs into action. Selected grant recipients will be asked to blog on the CDO website about their research goals and ongoing results, and to share insights about the experience for other researchers and practitioners interested in ethical and effective collaborative work. Subscribe to our email list for updates on new content!