Office for Public Engagement and Scholarship: Informing Pandemic Era Strategies for Engagement

"What I have learned in my work is when the people begin to speak, and when the people begin to organize, those systems start to break down and shift begins to happen. And it is not because we, as researchers, came in, but it is about the empowerment we do together and the data that research provides to help lift up the voice, story, and agency of the people's experience."

Monica Villarreal
Flint Community Initiative Program Coordinator
MSU School of Social Work

University Outreach and Engagement's Office for Public Engagement and Scholarship (OPES) organized a series of three virtual sessions, convening MSU faculty, staff, and students, as well as various community stakeholders, to gather their feedback on how each group has been impacted by the pandemic, and to inform strategies for helping MSU and community partners move forward in their community-engaged work.

Forums on Community-Engaged Research and Partnerships

In April and May 2020, OPES convened the virtual forums for MSU faculty, staff and students to share their experience about how the pandemic is affecting their community-engaged research and partnerships. An important purpose of these events was to document and share the information gathered during the forums, and use it to develop additional resources and professional development opportunities to support community-engaged research.

View the report with feedback from over 70 participants and links to resources

MSU Stakeholder Listening Sessions for Restarting Community-Engaged Research

In August 2020, the Community Engaged Research Workgroup of the Outreach and Engagement Subcommittee of the MSU COVID-19 Reopening Campus Task Force held four stakeholder listening sessions to gather input and recommendations from community partners and community liaisons about how researchers could safely, ethically, and equitably resume on-site research with communities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ten participants, representing a diversity of stakeholders, shared their responses in a focus group type setting. The information gathered during these sessions informed MSU's plans for resuming on-site research activities.

View the summary of participant responses

What Communities Expect from Researchers: A Panel Discussion

In December 2020, OPES brought back a group of panelists from the August stakeholder listening sessions to participate in a discussion to address the disruptions and social inequities throughout the pandemic, and to express their expectations for partnerships, offer advice for researchers who have not worked in their communities before, look at issues that are important to address in this present moment, and discuss their expectations of the benefits of research to communities. What does this mean for community-engaged research? What questions do we ask to understand how our community partners are doing? What are crucial considerations for how we collaborate with partners on research in ways that are respectful, ethical, and helpful during this time? The discussant and panelists sought to help attendees come away with specific strategies to strengthen community-engaged research during the COVID-19 pandemic.

View the report of the panel discussion

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