Over the past year we have been talking with people about Collaborative Curiosity: Designing Community-Engaged Research. People often ask how the course came to be. So, this is how it happened. Three or four years ago, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) explored the idea of developing a certificate program in community-engaged research (CEnR). What does it mean for a “university” to explore an idea? Like all universities, VCU is home to many incredibly talented people who care about community-engaged work. So, by “VCU” I mean the Division of Community Engagement, the Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR), Institute for Women’s Health and the Center on Health Disparities. Jessica Waugh [this was when she was with CCTR’s Education Core] conducted a search on the VCU course listings using the keywords: community, disparities, population, underserved, cultural, inequity, inequality, race. We found many undergraduate and graduate courses that addressed those issues, but only one that explicitly focused on CEnR*. We ultimately determined that we did not have the resources to develop a certificate program at that time, but we never lost sight of the need to expand the curriculum offerings to develop the future generation of community-engaged researchers.
As VCU continued to strengthen its focus on innovative teaching approaches and online learning, we approached AltLab with an idea – let’s create an online course that will engage people interested in community-engaged research regardless of their connection with VCU. They immediately got it and we formed a partnership that continues. We are particularly grateful to:
- Gardner Campbell and Jon Becker for their leadership and support of the team.
- Laura Gogia for her help with the design of the course, teaching us about connected learning, and then evaluating the whole thing.
- Tom Woodward for making the technology work.
- Molly Ransone for the best course trailer.
Last year I wrote some posts describing the development of the course. There is one on the name and another on the hashtag. There are also posts on the development of the course content, syllabus, and considerations regarding the various aspects of time. We also did a thank you video that describes the course a bit and shows the bloopers. The image on the right is the first image we considered using for the course – now we use the dots you see on the course page.
*In writing this post, I looked again at VCU’s course offerings using the same keywords as before. It appears we have even more courses that include issues related to engagement. This is not surprising given VCU’s commitment to and grounding in engagement. But still we only have one course (that I could find) that explicitly focuses on CEnR – the SBHD 636 Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) course taught by Dr. Maghboobah Mosavel. It is a great course and I highly recommend it.