Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice: Community Research Academy
Research is a central strength and unique added value that the CSSJ program brings to community struggles for environmental health and justice. We believe that research, when coupled with effective community organizing, advocacy, and/or service provision, plays the indispensable roles of:
- documenting lived experiences and social, environmental, or economic conditions in communities to make a strong case and focus attention and resources on changing those conditions;
- developing effective solutions and evaluating the effectiveness of programs designed to overcome community or worker challenges;
- increasing the accuracy and rigor of research by ground-truthing the assumptions inherent to external research.
Our Community Research Academy builds the skills, confidence, and capacity of community-based organizations and coalitions in the Bay Area and the Central Valley to effectively conduct and apply research. The Academy is an intensive, 16-hour training designed for the staff and members of community-based organizations and coalitions working on social, environmental, or economic justice issues who are interested in integrating the tools and process of research into their work. The goals of the Academy are to:
- strengthen participants’ understanding of how research can be used as a tool for social change;
- provide participants with the knowledge and tools to design and carry out their own research projects;
- build basic research skills for collecting, analyzing, and using data to support organizational goals, and identify opportunities for putting these skills to work;
- introduce and practice techniques for participants to effectively integrate the research process and outcomes into their advocacy and organizing work.
The Academy takes place in four four-hour sessions and relies on a curriculum that has been developed and field tested over the course of 10 years through our participatory research projects in West Oakland, West Contra Costa County, and with regional Bay Area groups.