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Symposium on Mainstreaming University-Community Research Partnerships & Building Capacities of the Next Generation of Community Based Researchers

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9 & 10 April, 2015

Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), India

The UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education conducted a symposium on ‘Mainstreaming University-Community Research Partnerships’ on the 9th of April, 2015, at India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. This symposium primarily focused on the practices of CURP across the world. Dr Rajesh Tandon, Co-Chair, UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education set the stage by introducing the chair, introducing the context, its relevance and the Chair’s activity in India. Thereafter, Dr Budd Hall, Co-Chair, UNESCO Chair, shared the findings of the IDRC sponsored study recently undertaken by the UNESCO Chair which focused on ‘Strengthening Community University Research Partnerships’. He touched the major emerging findings from the 12 countries in which this study was undertaken. This session further witnessed sharing of regional experiences, in the form of Dr Carol Ma, which showcased her experience from East Asia, Mr Denis Dambois gave an account of his European Union experiences, while Dr Anindya Chatterjee elaborated on the contribution made by the International Development Research Centre towards promoting such partnerships. Prof B L Mungekar, who was the respective chair for the session provided an outline on the broader perspective of community engagement and how it is viewed in India, in particular. Following the session, were open discussions which saw the participants sharing their local experiences, in addition to providing some concrete action points to be taken forward from the symposium.

The second session of the day focused on sharing the findings of the Indian study conducted by the UNESCO Chair, in association with the British Council, India on ‘Community Engagement in Higher Education Institutions’. Therefore, this session had a couple of speakers from the host universities where this study was undertaken, viz., Dr Ronki Ram from Punjab University and Dr Pahi Saikia from Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, who shared the findings from Punjab & Assam on the state-of-the-art- of practices of community engagement. Additionally, Dr Devi Prasad from TISS Mumbai shared his perspectives on the topic and brought to the forefront certain key issues which need to be addressed. Prof Furqan Qamar, Secretary General, Association of Indian Universities who was the chair of the session, presented a brief overview on Indian HEIs and the scope of integration of community engagement within the regular curriculum. This session again concluded with an open discussion, which saw extensive deliberations, particularly focusing on the Indian education framework, the constraints, challenges with respect to community engagement and action points for future.

Please find the full report for the 9th April event at: http://unescochair-cbrsr.org/unesco/pdf/9_April_2015_event_report.pdf

The proceedings for 10th April began with a PRIA-logue between Dr. Rajesh Tandon and Prof. Budd Hall in PRIA itself. The session was an interactive one wherein these two stalwarts discussed what participatory research in action is and what is its future. The audience we enthralled by their recollections of how they chose participatory research (or rather how participatory research chose them). Similar accounts of others’ encounters that led them to community-based participatory research were also recounted by various members in the audience.

This was followed by a series of presentations by various members who have been actively involved in Participatory Research. Mr. Walter Lepore from University of Victoria, Canada gave a presentation on ‘Global Status of Capacity Building on Participatory Research’ which was based on the findings of the global survey on the same. This survey was conducted as a part of the Next-Gen Project, funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Govt. of Canada. This was followed by a presentation by Dr. Andrea Vargiu from University of Sassari, Italy on ‘Teaching Participatory Research: Issues and Challenges’.

After lunch, there was a panel discussion on ‘Mobilising Resources for Building Capacity in Community-based Participatory Research’. The members of the panel discussion brought in viewpoints from different geographical locations as well as different sectors. Dr. Cristina Escrigas shared her experiences from Europe as an Advisor in the Global University Network for Innovation (GUNi) in Barcelona. Similarly Dr. Carol Ma shared her experiences from East Asia as the Associate-Director of Service-Learning (OSL) in Lingnan University, Hong Kong, China. Mr. Jagadananda, Member Secretary, Centre for Youth & Social Development (CYSD), Odisha, India shared his experiences as being a part of the civil society in India. Finally, Dr. Surajit Sarkar, Associated Professor in Ambedkar University, Delhi, shared his experiences as being part of the novel initiative called Centre for Community Knowledge in his University.

Please find the full report for the 10th April event at: http://unescochair-cbrsr.org/unesco/pdf/10_April_2015_event_report.pdf

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