Ever wondered how to get work experience when no one will hire you unless you have it?

Some Trent students have figured one way of doing this while at the same time maintaining their critical liberal arts perspective: completing community-based research (CBR) projects as part of their academic studies.

In other words, they have connected their coursework with local non-profit and government organizations to complete projects that the community partners have proposed and jointly oversee. In some cases, students are also working on CBR as paid research assistants.

How did these students do it? They got involved with the Trent Centre for Community-Based Education (TCCBE – www.trentcentre.ca), an organization that has been bringing together students, faculty and local organizations to work on projects of community interest since 1995.

On the afternoon of Thursday, April 3 at the Peterborough Golf and Country Club, you can meet some of these students first hand as they showcase their research from the past year during the Community Innovation Forum: Knowledge and Talent in Action (www.communityinnovation.ca).

Research topics with community partners include local food systems and food security, playground safety, women in politics, oral histories of local immigrants, land use planning, local tourism, biodiversity restoration… and the list goes on.

Community-based researchers seek to authentically involve affected stakeholders in the research process, validate alternative ways of knowing and orient research results towards social and environmental justice and action. At the same time, CBR builds local community capacity and provides students with outside-the-classroom experience, skill development and networking opportunities.

Some professors choose to incorporate CBR into fourth-year courses, while others supervise students via independent study (like a reading course). Some faculty are doing their own CBR and involve students through funded research positions, sometimes in partnership with the TCCBE.

Our two sister organizations also facilitate this work in Haliburton (U-Links Centre for Community-Based Research) and City of Kawartha Lakes (C-Links Centre for Community-Based Projects and Social Mapping).

If I’ve piqued your interest, stop by the forum on April 3, and check it out (special stop on the East Bank Express halfway to Armour Road) –  you won’t be disappointed!