Community Based Research & Community Development

Community Based Research is a collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners including community organizations, community members, and academic researchers (e.g., students, faculty, staff) in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. Community Based Research begins with a research topic of importance to the community and has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change to eliminate health disparities and promote wellness.

Students conducting Community Based Research through their dissertation our encouraged to participate in the Annual Graduate Research Forum.  

Michael Nutt, 4th year Clinical Psychology student, was awarded first place for completed research at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s Graduate Research Forum.

​Michael began his dissertation journey by engaging with the Community Partnerships Department. In the fall of 2016, Michael began serving as a tutor/mentor in “Homework Help Room” at Oakley Square Apartments through Community Builders on the west side.  He developed strong relationships with a group of 6th – 8th graders over the course of the year. 

In the summer of 2017, Michael approached the Director of Community Partnerships regarding an idea to work with some of the youth at Community Builders on a photography project connected to his dissertation.  Because of Michael’s commitment to this community, he spoke with the organization, who allowed him to run his photography program in the fall/winter of 2017. 

Michael’s photography project had a profound effect on the youth who were able to take pictures in their community, representing both the violence around them as well as the “simple good”.  As a result of his work, he completed his dissertation and entered a poster about his project in the Graduate Research Forum. 

Michael received first place for completed research. 

We in Community Partnerships are grateful for Michael’s commitment to the community and the respect he displayed for the youth and families involved.  ​

​​ Example of Previous Research Consulting Projects

 ​Erasing the Distance

Erasing the Distance is a non-profit organization that aims to reduce stigma of mental illness and change attitudes toward individuals with mental illness through theater performance. Erasing the Distance puts on performances based on real individuals experiences of living with a mental illness. Our Research Consulting team is evaluating changes in the audience members’ knowledge, attitudes, and feelings towards depression and Bipolar Disorder before and after viewing the performance based on these same topics. Our team is also conducting interviews with Erasing the Distance actors and staff members to assess for changes in their attitudes and feelings about mental illness after participating in the project. We are designing the measures and administering and analyzing the data.

 ​Erie Neighborhood House—Super-H and Super-H Itos

The mission of Erie Neighborhood House is to promote a just and inclusive society by strengthening low-income, primarily Latino families through skill-building, access to critical resources, advocacy and collaborative action. The goal of Erie’s health programming —Super H-itos for toddlers and Super H for school-aged youth— is to positively impact the health of children and their parents by promoting good nutritional habits, physical activity, and positive self-concept. Our Research Consulting team is developing evaluation tools to assess the impact of Super H and Super-H-itos on participating Latino children and families in terms of knowledge on healthy eating as well as changes in eating habits and self-concept.

 ​Community Organizing and Family Issues

Since 1995, Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) has taught more than 2,200 parent leaders, organizers, advocates, and community partners to use Family Focused Organizing methods in Chicago neighborhoods.  Their Family Focused Organizing model helps individuals and communities create positive changes in their own lives and the lives of their families, and in the systems that affect families.  Our Research Consulting team is developing evaluation tools to assess short-term and long-term impact of their training curriculum on participants in different neighborhoods. 

 ​Japanese American Service Committee—Out of House Plus Program

The mission of the Japanese American Service Committee (JASC) is to preserve and raise awareness of Japanese American cultur​e and heritage and to promote the physical and spiritual well-being of Japanese Americans and the greater multicultural communities in the Midwest. The Out of House Plus Program was designed to help seniors remain physically active, emotionally connected and meaningfully engaged with a community in a way that supports whole health. The Out of the House Plus Program will host a six-week long version of the program designed to provide opportunities for seniors to socialize, understand their own health and psychological needs and empower themselves to take steps that will have an ongoing impact on their mental and physical health. Our Research Consulting team is evaluating the outcomes of Out of the House Plus Program with both qualitative and quantitative measures. The evaluation focuses on participating seniors’ depression symptoms, a sense of connectedness to other seniors, and overall satisfaction with the program. ​