Community Action Research
There are many ways that HKUST faculty, staff and students can make connections between academic scholarship and the issues facing communities and non-profit organizations. Some approaches focus primarily on using the rigor and tools of academic research to collect data that will inform the activities of community organizations (e.g., conducting a marketing survey or program evaluation), but may not serve to advance academic theory. Other research projects may be designed so as to contribute to the development of new knowledge as well as provide results that are useful to the community.
Community action research, sometimes referred to as community-based research, is a partnership approach that involves academics and community organization representatives in the joint development of a research project. The questions to be addressed, the design and implementation of the study and the presentation of the results are worked out collaboratively. Community action research thus differs from traditional academic research in three ways: It focuses on answering questions directly related to policy or practice, targets decision makers and community members as its audience, and is driven by community priorities rather than theory.
While employing the same rigorous standards as academic research, community action research works to provide the data and tools a community needs in order to effect change, with the possibility—but not the requirement—that an element of the research can contribute to scholarly knowledge.
Community-engaged scholarship, or engaged scholarship, refers to a category of activities having a dual purpose of advancing academic scholarship and providing results that are accessible and valuable to a community partner.
Engaged scholarship is an effective way to draw upon the intellectual talents of a university and its faculty to address pressing social issues, while at the same time advancing scholarly knowledge. Engaged scholarship projects include an intentional public purpose and community involvement in the process, with the final product of the research having some level of community impact as well as academic impact.
See the Resources section for a link to a new online Research University Engaged Scholarship Toolkit.
HKUST Connect encourages faculty and staff to pursue ideas for community-based research as a means of teaching students about research as well as furthering their own scholarly program. We can support these efforts by helping to identify potential community partners and develop a relationship with them. In addition, we are available to explore the dissemination of research findings or scholarship to community organizations that could benefit from them. For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.