How’d it all happen

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:

2679-36749-1-SPLast 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 contentsyllabus, 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.

2 thoughts on “How’d it all happen

  1. I love love love this behind-the-scenes process post and that u have been blogging thru the development of this course. I have almost zero free time but drawn to it like a moth to a flame and hoping to learn a lot (or at least a little if i can’t manage to engage fully). Thanks for offering it

  2. Ah thanks! It has been an incredibly fun course – from planning to facilitation to evaluation and reflection. I look forward to your participation in the course, as much as you can. Let us know if you have any suggestions or things you want to try out.

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