Practicing what I teach

I’m recently back from an academic conference. The Urban Affairs Association is my very favorite conference: it is interdisciplinary, attracts academics and practitioners, and there are always more interesting sessions to attend than there are hours in the day.

I go to listen, I go to learn, I go to share what I’ve been learning in my own research. I invariably spend part of the conference trying to sort out my feelings of resentment (?) about being surrounded by people touting all of the amazing community-engaged research they and their students accomplish — all at R-1 institutions, with tiny little teaching loads, graduate assistants, and institutional mechanisms in place to support community-engaged research. *I don’t want to be there! Not for a million bucks! But I do want to do that.*

One session I attended was a panel of community organization leaders, discussing their new collaboration. The panel was moderated by a faculty at a Miami University who introduced himself by saying “most of my research is action research alongside community partners.”

“most of my research is action research alongside community partners.”

This is what I want to be able to say when I introduce myself in 5 years time, at the same conference. Enough messing around, doing the kind of research other people *think* I should do. This is what I feel (literally) called to do. Now I just need to learn how to do it, how to bring my students in to this quest, and how to build institutional infrastructure to support this work.

Social change, not service. Action research alongside community partners.

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