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Creating a better future for communities through research

Community forums: Beyond dissemination and feedback

The Challenge

Community forums are becoming recognized as a strategic way to share research and validate findings. If research is about bringing social change in addition to research findings, then the challenge becomes organizing creative forums to distribute knowledge while inspiring action.

Partners

CCBR partners with community researchers, steering committees and other leaders in the community to plan and facilitate community forums.

Innovative Solutions

In creating meaningful community forums, CCBR responds with the following process:

  1. Facilitate overarching event planning

    Plans begin with brainstorming from a cross-stakeholder project steering committee on subcomponents like research dissemination, feedback from participants, inspiration, entertainment, food, music and media exposure. The committee then divides into content subcommittees, each addressing one element of the research topic.

  2. Engage in subcommittee work

    Each content subcommittee organizes meetings involving others to understand problems and generate solutions. CCBR staff share research findings with each content subcommittee and plan creative ways to present findings that promote actions.

  3. Launch forum

    The forum is typically a large community event with three major parts: being and acting together as community, disseminating research and discussion, and receiving commitment from stakeholder groups for future action.

  4. Initiate follow-up action

    CCBR staff support community members to implement actions and build collaborative strategies for change.

One Example

Immigrant Youth in High School - Waterloo Region Community Forum - June 2006

CCBR led the "Pathways to Success: Immigrant Youth in High School" project in Waterloo Region. This was a one-year research project involving qualitative, exploratory research with immigrant students, teachers, school boards representatives and the community at large.

At the end of the study, CCBR organized a 3 hour community forum at Kitchener City Hall bringing together over 150 community members. The program included presentations about the context of immigration in Waterloo Region and in Canada, a youth presentation of research findings, a dramatic theatre presentation by youth, a youth choir, the reading of an open letter to the Minister of Education, youth poetry, discussion, food, entertainment and much more.

Audience response:

  • "Excellent!!! This forum certainly brought the community together around this important issue and future discussions."

  • "Fantastic event. Introducing multicultural programs at school to shorten the gap between immigrant youth and mainstream students is needed."

  • "It made me cry when I listened to youth and tried to understand their difficulties."

  • "Excellent points of the need to communicate with parents and schools officials."

Discoveries

By planning and implementing creative ideas that inspire, community forum planners are already involved in social action and experience strong buy-in towards research findings and recommendations. The community is mobilized by strong research and by creative deliveries, both of which require the active involvement of community members.

-written by Joanna Ochocka

Related CCBR Articles

Ochocka, J. & Janzen R. (in press). Blending commitment, passion and structure: Engaging cultural linguistic communities in collaborative research. In A. Williamson & R. DeSouza (Eds.) Researching with Communities. Wairua Press. Waitakere City, New Zealand.