Rules of Engagement: Continuing the Shift

On April 29th, I attended an event that I kinda sorta had a hand in bringing about. Knowledge to Impact: Igniting Community Engagement was the second iteration of a grassroots initiative I started with a colleague in 2018. Thanks to our impassioned efforts last year, this year we saw participation more than double, and participation by folks external to the academy at nearly 60%. Yippee!!

As noted in a previous post, community engagement in research and academia means a lot to me. And I ain’t afraid of putting my money where my mouth is.

On April 29th, I admittedly still had some hypotheses leftover from the 2018 event. One of these hypotheses is that communities have a difficult time figuring out how to initially approach the University. Then, in the morning of the event, a participant from a non-profit organization asked the panel: “So, say I wanted to contact the University and find a researcher to help my organization find some answers. Who do I contact? All I see are these building on the hill and I don’t know who to talk to.”


This became a common question during the day: where’s the front door of the Ivory Tower?

Then yesterday, I attended Inventure$2019. In a session, “Mobilizing to tackle social health challenges”, I heard again how communities want to be involved in research, how they likely already have data but just need a little bit of money and bit of research savvy to get them the answers they need. I heard how researchers are getting million dollar National Institutes for Health grants and suddenly want access to communities and their data.

I’d heard this before: communities want relationships, researchers want one-night-stands.

Everybody is saying the same thing. The question is: who’s listening?

Tomorrow, I am attending the In the Trenches: Implementation to Impact Summit. I wonder what I’ll learn there.

Stay tuned!


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