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Who We Are


Community-University Connections is a community-based research initiative that explores the use of science in environmental and social policy, and facilitates collaborative research and information exchange between community organisations and university-based researchers.


Our initiative is based on the premise that, to protect biological and cultural diversity and to safeguard environmental and human health, scientific research ought to be ecosystem-based, precautionary in nature, inclusive of local and traditional knowledge and expertise, and respectful of local customs and protocols for research. Collaborative, participatory research is an important approach to better environmental and ecological decision-making because it can change the way the science that underlies decisions is done--for example, by recognising the complexity, vulnerability and uncertainty of ecological systems and by acknowledging the value of local and traditional ecological knowledge in addressing complex environmental issues.

Community-University Connections is a developing institutional model for empowering community-based decision-making in stewardship of natural resources and promotion of human and environmental health. We believe that working together will help to define practices and standards for "smart" environmental science and policies.

Community-University Connections is based at the University of Victoria. We are part of the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance sponsored by the Eco-Research Chair of Environmental Law and Policy. Our work receives financial and other support from the MCRI Coasts Under Stress Project and the Clayoquot Alliance for Research, Education and Training.


What We Do


Community-University Connections aims to facilitate shared learning and collaborative research between communities and universities by:
  • Establishing a process for community-university partnerships

    We are adapting the ideas of the European 'science shops' to the priorities and practicalities of BC communities and universities. For background information on the original science shops and community-based research click here.
  • Linking community organisations and university researchers

    We are building a network of community and First Nations organisations and university researchers throughout BC who are involved or interested in collaborative research on environmental and human health issues. This network will create closer links among and between communities and universities to encourage information exchange and research partnerships, better address local issues in human and environmental health, build community capacity for informed decision-making, support the role of local knowledge in the research process, and raise awareness of ethical issues in research methods and policy.

    Identifying ethical issues and best practices in
    community-university collaborative research.


    We are undertaking an overview and analysis of existing collaborative and community-based research models and case studies, and examining barriers and bridges to mutually-beneficial community-university partnerships. Our initial focus is on policy aspects (such as local protocols, research agreements, ethics review systems, informed consent and data ownership/sharing policies) with emphasis on issues relating to First Nations communities.

    Facilitating workshops on community-based
    research methods and ethics


    Workshops address practical, theoretical and ethical aspects of conducting community-based research. Participation is aimed at First Nations communities, non-profit organisations, university faculty and students, and policy-makers.

The POLIS Project of the Eco-Research Chair

Community-University Connections is one of several innovative initiatives of the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance, sponsored by the Eco-Research Chair of Environmental Law and Policy at the University of Victoria. The Eco-Research Chair was founded in 1995 to provide a trans-disciplinary forum for education and research focused on developing sustainable alternatives in a range of areas related to environmental law and policy.

The POLIS Project cultivates ecological governance through innovative research and policy development. The challenge of POLIS is to create a new set of solutions for our political, economic, environmental and social institutions. With a unique combination of academic credibility and activist spirit, the project aims to dismantle the notion of the environment as merely another sector, and bring it into the mainstream where it belongs, as a core value in all aspects of our society.


MCRI Coasts Under Stress Project

The Coasts Under Stress research project examines the impact of social and environmental restructuring on environmental and human health in Canada. It is a collaboration between Memorial University and the University of Victoria and includes several other North American universities and partner agencies. Funding is provided primarily by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Natural Science and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) through the Major Collaboration Research Initiative (MCRI) program from April 2000 -2005.

 

Clayoquot Alliance for Research, Education and Training

The Clayoquot Alliance for Research, Education and Training is a
partnership of the University of Victoria through the School of Public
Adminstration, and the communities of the Clayoquot Sound region
through the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust. The goal of this partnership is
to forge innovative links between the university and the
Clayoquot Sound communities, to provide a forum in which community interests and needs become academic concerns, and to make the educational and training resources of the University more accessible to First Nations and non-First Nations communities in the Clayoquot Sound region.

Funding (April 2001 - 2004) is provided by the Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
under the
Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) initiative.



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