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Author: Richard M. Lerner

Academic and Community Contexts of Applied Developmental Science: Outreach, Outreach Scholarship, Engagement, and Co-Learning

Parts 1 and 2: Campus-Community Collaboration

  1. Fundamental Shifts have occurred in university-community relations
    1. The campus context is a culture that focuses on theory and method
      1. Paradigm pioneers have initiated shifting these foci to outreach research
      2. Professors still needed to publish, and this must not be lost to ensure outcomes that are important to the community
    2. The community context is a culture that cares most about best practice to improve the lives of the community
      1. Community members want to use methods of program design and delivery that are most efficacious
      2. Community members want knowledge disseminated and may need technical assistance in doing so
      3. Knowing community culture is essential to disseminate knowledge
    3. Ernest Boyer suggested that “scholarship” needs to be reconsidered. We need to think of scholarship as knowledge generation, knowledge transmission, knowledge preservation/integration, and knowledge application.
  2. The National Institute of Health’s (NIH) “Efficacy Model” (Jensen, Hoagwood, & Trickett, 1999):
    1. The focus is on what works under optimal university-based, as opposed to “real world” research conditions.
  3. The NIH Outreach Research Model (What works in real world settings?)
    1. This model is defined by five concepts: Is the research palatable, feasible, durable, affordable, and sustainable.
    2. Despite millions of dollars being spent, “effective” programs are not always efficacious.
  4. How to build community that merges campus and community cultures
    1. Identify, integrate, and build on the assets of the community.
    2. Foster community wide collaborations that involve empowerment, capacity-building, and sustainability
  5. Components of Collaboration
    1. Coalition formation: bringing all community voices to the table
      1. Giving everyone an equal voice is extremely difficult (e.g., how could we bring all of the competing factions in Iraq to a collective bargaining table?)
      2. People in power need to find ways to give others a voice, especially the disempowered.
    2. Envisioning a positive future
      1. This must occur to combat cynicism in a group.
    3. Asset mapping
      1. What resources for positive development, or "assets," are present in a community and how can they be tapped?
    4. Program planning
      1. Using community assets, what inputs does a group need to reach what outcomes?
    5. Program delivery
      1. Is the program presented in an efficient and culturally sensitive fashion?
    6. Program evaluation and self-correction: Formative, participatory approaches to evaluation
      1. Using formative evaluation, one can determine if the program is working and how it might be improved.
      2. Formative assessment embodies the following concepts: prove, improve, and empower.
    7. Policy engagement
      1. Evaluations that demonstrate a program’s viability can be used to engage policy makers.
  6. Principles of Effective University-Community Collaborations
    1. Research studies need both internal and external validity to be worthwhile for both universities and communities to pursue.
      1. However, internally valid studies might have no external validity and vice-versa.
      2. For research to be accepted by communities, universities need an enhanced focus on external validity. Studies need to fit within the community, and what works for one setting might not work for another.
      3. To have external validity, university researchers need to focus on values and needs of communities. In this sense, the study’s objective or outcomes need to be fully conceived and assessed as important to the community.
    2. To Ensure Outcomes that are Important to the Community
      1. There must be flexibility to fit local program goals with local needs and circumstances
      2. Research methods may need to be modified.
      3. Long-term perspectives must be embraced. Universities often focus on the needs of a study and not on how the work will affect the community for the long term.
      4. There must be co-learning between the two systems. This involves both humility and cultural integration.

Suggested Readings:

  • Jensen, P., Hoagwood, K. & Trickett, E. (1999). Ivory towers or earthen trenches? Community collaborations to foster “real world” research. Applied Developmental Science, 3, 206-212.
  • Lerner, R. M. (2004). Liberty (Chapters 2, 3)
  • Mondak, J.J., & Gearing, A.F. (1998). Civic engagement in a post-communist state. Political Psychology, 19, 615-637.