Blog Post

Community Leaders Develop Tools for Equitable Research Partnerships

CSA is pleased to announce the launch of a new project to establish Tools for Equitable Research Partnerships, with support from the Rita Allen Foundation. This effort, proposed by CSA’s Environmental Justice Practitioners’ Working Group (EJP), will compile, pilot test, share, and mentor the use of templates and strategies that address ongoing disparities in community-based research partnerships.

C*Science research depends on knowledge and insights from individuals beyond traditional and professional science roles. Some c*science work directly confronts questions in communities affected by environmental injustices. The pace and process of traditional science offers little leeway – and even less guidance – for researchers to take into account what community members gain from these relationships. Even when academic and agency researchers have good intentions to benefit communities through their science, they may not consider or prioritize the usefulness of their research for civic action or change. 

This new project supports EJP leaders and advisors who have decades of experience navigating such research relationships. They have developed tools and strategies for establishing partnerships that attend to the priorities and needs of communities as well as those of researchers. Fruitful c*science partnerships require improved support of community members, shared understandings of the needs of all partners, and respect for the knowledge contributions of all partners. With these improvements, research questions and findings become more relevant, comprehensive, and aligned with the changes needed to address community concerns. 

Through this project, the EJP will pilot tools with communities who can benefit from them, as well as researchers who may be asked by communities to use them. This effort will both leverage and create some tools to develop an operational model of the work and the commitments necessary to attend to equitable and effective partnerships between institutions and community leaders. CSA is itself the first pilot institution. CSA’s Board has already approved an equitable rate structure, proposed by the EJP, for all CSA contracts with community members and community-based organizations beginning with this project. 

This two-year project will kickstart a more self-sustaining effort for EJP leaders to share their practice knowledge across the C*Science community. This effort will pilot and distribute materials to promote the availability and importance of such tools, and basic guidance on what is required to put them into use. This lays the groundwork for an equity-oriented sustainability plan, offering fee-for-service training for researchers and peer-to-peer mentorship models for communities. The debut training will be offered as a workshop during C*Sci2023 (both in-person and virtually), on Friday, 26 May, 2023.

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