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BCTR at “The Future of Action and Engaged Research” CU search conference

September 17, 2012

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Small group discussion at the conference

On September 8 and 9, BCTR's Elaine Wethington and Jennifer Tiffany participated in a search conference on engaged learning and action research at Cornell that brought together over thirty faculty and staff from across the university. Davydd Greenwood (Anthropology) and Richard Feldman (Language Resource Center) facilitated the two-day collaborative reflection, planning, and action design process. Stephen Hamilton, Neema Kudva, Becky Stoltzfus, Ray Craib, Melanie Dreyer-Lude, Richard Kiely, Sofía Villenas, and Leonardo Vargas Méndez were members of the conference planning committee.

Search conferences are a widely used participatory method for engaging people with diverse perspectives in shaping actions that can create the future conditions and relationships that they identify as preferable to the “probable future” that would emerge without their deliberate and carefully planned intervention. The conference started with participants constructing a detailed history of action research and engaged learning at Cornell and concluded with formation of action groups. Processes designed by Kurt Lewin, as well as Davydd Greenwood and other action researchers, were used to facilitate in-depth planning.

Elaine Wethington’s and Jennifer Tiffany’s contributions to the search conference built on the BCTR’s focus on bi-directional translational research; expertise in how federal funding initiatives and human participant protections relate to outreach and equitable community relationships; commitment to fostering student and faculty expertise in partnering with communities; and its key role in College of Human Ecology and Cornell Cooperative Extension outreach and extension efforts.

Brainstorming at the conference

The conference was titled The Future of Action and Engaged Research at Cornell University - A Search Conference. Schools, offices, centers, programs, institutes, and academic departments represented were Academic Diversity Initiatives, Africana Studies & Research Center, American Indian Program, Anthropology, Asian American Studies Program, City and Regional Planning, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Classics, Comparative Literature, Design and Environmental Analysis, Development Sociology, Center for Community Engaged Learning & Research, Engineering, Environmental & Indigenous Studies, Farmworker Program, History, Human Development, Knight Institute for Writing, Landscape Architecture, Language Resource Center, Law School, Mann Library, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Mediterranean Studies Initiative, Natural Resources, Near Eastern Studies, Nutritional Sciences, Office of Sustainability, Performing & Media Arts, Public Service Center, Residential Life, Science & Technology Studies, Southeast Asia Studies, Tompkins County Extension, Vet School, and William Keeton House.


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