As an academic institute, U of T Scarborough exchanges knowledge through research, teaching and conversation
Click through to see some of our recent intiatives...
In early 2019, a conversation initiated around joining the Knowledge for Change Global Consortium, an initiative of the UNESCO Chairs in Community-Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education. Faculty and local organizations discussed goals to develop research capacities for the co-creation of knowledge through collective action by practitioners, community-based researchers, community groups and academics.
Conversations about the importance of community expertise and to ensure that research is also driven by community priorities, helped determine the value of a project like this. K4C Toronto was co-founded in the summer of 2019 by the Centre for Critical Development Studies at U of T Scarborough, The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at U of T, community partners Toronto Centre for Community Learning & Development, and Ontario Council for International Cooperation.
As of March 2020, mentors from these organizations have been trained and certified by K4C Global to become resources in future community-based participatory research projects. They have also been deeply embedded in the pedagogy of the cluster of courses that form the core of the Community Knowledge Learning Hub, an experiential learning projects funded by the University of Toronto Provost.
Myuri Komaragiri, Assistant Program Coordinator, International Development Studies, Centre for Criti
Community partners often hold a tremendous amount of expertise regarding issues of interest to university research. Working in partnership to co-develop and co-design community-university projects leads to more holistic, transformative, equitable learnings and actionable outcomes for all involved.
Engaging with community organizations and partners this year has enabled us to truly appreciate the importance of long-term investment in equitable relationships. This work is crucial and requires the authentic building of trust over time.
As a graduate of the University of Toronto Scarborough, Ruth Belay’s undergraduate experiences were shaped by various community outreach opportunities that allowed for student learning to occur in local communities, such as the Imani Academic Mentorship Program and experiential learning courses with community placements.
Inspired by the stories of community-university partnerships, her Master’s research project focused on documenting the rich history that exists between the University of Toronto Scarborough and local communities. The project engaged with community partners, U of T Scarborough staff and alumni to capture key moments that have shaped local community-based partnerships. The research objectives also included developing a better understanding of how our campus can be responsive to community priorities through U of T Scarborough’s role as an anchor institution in the Eastern GTA and asset-based approach to community development.
Belay’s research has demonstrated the importance of social justice orientation that involves both organic and intentional evolution of socially conscious institutional strategy for community engagement and development. The final version of the paper will be published and shared with a large audience.
Ruth Belay, U of T Graduate student
This project reaffirms the importance of community partnership being based on asset-based approaches that prioritize community knowledge, capacity and priorities. UTSC staff and students continue to utilize their connections to local communities to foster institutional change and develop collaborative responses to community priorities. UTSC’s anchor mission is an important asset for deconstructing the ivory tower, social justice and more readily engage with local communities.
Several faculty members in Arts, Science and Co-op, specifically psychology, computer science and music were interested in embedding experiential learning opportunities with the community, and reached out to the Integrated Learning Experience (ILE) coordinators. Leveraging local partnerships, the ILE coordinators recommended appropriate partners for each project.
Faculty members used a variety of engagements for students and local partners to work together, this included:
Students were able to put their theoretical learning into practice, develop relationships with community stakeholders, demystifies community work and present viable career pathways.
A student was hired by the organization through startup funds for a collaborative project.
Professor Laura Risk (Department of Arts, Culture and Media) hopes to offer this course ahead of a new capstone course in the future, in where students would bring those final assignments to life – working with a local organization to design and deliver a community music activity, expand on or enhance the partner’s program.
U of T Scarborough Student
One of my biggest takeaways from the course is a higher sense of responsibility towards society as a software engineer. My time with CNIB has been one of my best experiences during my time in school.
I was part of a team that developed an educational VR application that will be used to inform about designing spaces to be more accessible to people with impairments. We presented at The Buildings Show, held in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on December 5, 2019.
Saddaf Syed (UTSC ILE Coordinator)
Inviting stakeholders to the classroom to give their perspective on how Tinnitus has touched their lives, gave students a real world understanding of the condition; a perspective which could not have been obtained from a textbook. The stakeholder community were the educators. Students were able to absorb and comprehend this information when they produced a poster. By presenting the poster to the community, the community was able to validate the information the students understood.