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Community-Based Research at Michigan State University

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

CBRCanada welcomes Michigan State University as our first international member! In an interview with Dr. Laurie Van Egern, Interim Associate Provost for University Outreach and Engagement, we learn why they became a CBRCanada member and a few examples of community based research at MSU.

1. What made Michigan State University interested in signing up for CBRCanada membership?

We have been following CBRCanada for the last few years. Engaged scholarship is embedded in our university and we are a member of several engaged scholarship organizations. CBRCanada is unique in that it emphasizes how to deeply engage with communities, especially Indigenous communities. A number of our researchers work with Indigenous communities, and we look forward to gaining expertise from CBRCanada in that area. We are looking forward to strengthening our partnerships, as there is a groundswell among our faculty, staff, and students to collaborate across borders. We look to Canada and other countries to learn from their work. We were delighted to have a conversation about CBRCanada membership and now we are integrating CBRCanada opportunities with the support we give to faculty, staff, students, and researchers.

Community-engaged research is expanding across disciplines, and we are intentional about supporting this approach across disciplines, not to exclude areas based on their traditional approach. The more input academic researchers seek from the community, the more relevant the research will be to the community, and ultimately, the results will be more impactful. The partnership is integral to the work of research.

2. Please share a few examples of community-based research projects at MSU.

The Flint Centre for Health Equity Solutions – A centre that addresses health equity in a place that is known for health issues and systemic racism. Every project has an academic and community principal investigator who are well-versed in community-based research. They created a partnership with public health researchers, policymakers, community organizations, and faith-based partners. The intervention research projects investigate obesity, cardiovascular disease, substance abuse and mental illness to prevent chronic health problems in families. They have transparent budgets and the community provides input on how the funds should be spent.

Military families and trauma – Dr. Adrian Blow from the department of Human Development and Family Studies is working with the Michigan Army National Guard, Veterans Affairs, medical schools, and health institutes to address the challenges of re-integration after serving in the military. When returning to civilian life, military members may face isolation and mental health issues. They have created a peer support program and care provider program to provide mental health supports.

The Detroit Sexual Assault Kit Action-Research Project – This project is led by Dr. Rebecca Campbell in the Psychology department in partnership with the Wayne County prosecutor’s office. In Detroit about 11,000 sexual assault kits were found in storage that had never been analyzed. This project is developing best practices for untested sexual assault kits. They developed testing procedures and created trauma-informed programming to support survivors.

Participatory modeling for urban food systems – Faculty members from our College of Agriculture and Natural Resources along with the department of community sustainability are developing participatory modeling for urban food systems. Community members, local food system experts, local government, and academic researchers use modelling strategies to see what changes need to be made to increase equitable access to food systems.

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