The Forum’s community engagement research addresses the ability for members of society to engage democratically within and outside academia. In other words, we apply rigorous research methods to explore the opportunities and barriers for those who desire access to higher education. We recognize how privileged we are: we possess a wealth of social, educational, and cultural capital, and we believe that compels us to use our gifts to reach out to those in our communities. This is higher education’s call to active engagement in creating stronger communities and a stronger society by going beyond the walls of our institutions. Along the way, we find that we not only have something to offer to our brothers and sisters in our communities, we also have much to learn from and with them!
As of November, 2011, we are wrapping up a cycle of research in the Brightmoor community of Detroit, and are exploring ways to continue our presence there. Our research has been generously supported by the Kettering Foundation, and has focused on promoting college access for members of the Brightmoor community. Building on our work in the Access to Democracy project, we developed a research technique that engaged the people of Brightmoor in a series of dialogues. The deliberative dialogue model, borrowed from Kettering and the National Issues Forum (NIF), allowed us to ensure that communities felt they had been heard without a priori judgments. Along the way, we learned much about the barriers community members face in pursuing higher education, and we hope that we empowered them to work together to overcome them. We are currently in the process of reporting our research findings and pursuing new avenues for continued involvement in the community.
Past research initiatives
Information from our past research projects can be found in the Past Projects link in the footer.