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Simon Fraser University’s Community-Engaged Research Initiative (CERi)

Simon Fraser University’s Community-Engaged Research Initiative (CERi) at 312 Main Street, Vancouver is ready to launch.

Led by Co-Directors, Stuart Poyntz, SFU professor, School of Communication, and Am Johal, director, SFU’s VanCity Office of Community Engagement, CERi will open new offices at 312 Main in December 2019 and will offer a series of new programs, resources, events and space designed to support and enhance community-engaged research across SFU’s three campuses, throughout the Lower Mainland and across Canada.

CERi is a new kind of university initiative. Designed around a collaborative research space, CERi will promote principles of participation, cooperation, empowerment and knowledge translation to lift up and strengthen the capacity of SFU’s researchers and students. This in turn will allow our researchers and students to engage respectfully and ethically with community members in meaningful and productive research partnerships that are capable of making a positive difference in communities throughout British Columbia.

CERi emerged from SFU’s University Steering Committee on Community-Engaged Research and is designed to offer scholars, students and community members flexible research space, a community librarian/archive program, research funding support, learning resources, a Visiting Scholars program and media production resources, while engaging in a university-wide discussion of policies linked to the recognition of community-engaged research at SFU.

Community-engaged research (CER) is defined by a set of practices, values and objectives that emphasize active participation of the individuals and communities directly affected by research activities and joint responsibility between investigators and communities for the design, execution and outcomes of research projects. CER is premised on principles of reciprocity, including the shared ownership of research produced as a result of partnerships between scholars, students and communities. Through the process of inclusion, research findings can have greater relevance to the communities they concern, while meaningful engagement in the research process can help to increase the likelihood that research findings will be used and will be useful for the communities they involve.

Beyond a range of new programs, CERi will raise awareness, celebrate and recognize outstanding CER at the SFU. Over the past six months, working in coordination with an Advisory Board, Poyntz and Johal have undertaken the development of an ambitious implementation plan that builds on a year-long process (2018/19) of consultation and reflection on CER at the university.

This plan is now ready to be launched and calls for participation, applications for student research funding and access to research space will circulate in April 2020.

As this initiative unfolds, our aim is to create a unique social infrastructure in the university, one that will entrench and expand SFU’s capacity to lead community-engaged research through the development of a one-of-a-kind institute that will be unique in Canada and a leader around the world.

For more information on CERi and our programs, please visit our information page at and look for our new website, launching in January 2020.

Stuart Poyntz and Am Johal

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