Wednesday, January 28, 2015

cPARN members present findings of graduate student report

Yesterday in Mann Library, cPARN members presented the findings of their report Engaging Research/Engaging Cornell: Graduate Students, Public Engagement, and the Land Grant Mission of Cornell University.

Two dozen graduate students, faculty, staff, and administrators were present at the unveiling which generated some critical discussion about the future of graduate student engaged research at Cornell. cPARN member Todd Dickey gave attendees a taste of the report by focusing on the research team's process, as well as the historical precedent of engaged research at Cornell--particularly that research associated with Cornell Cooperative Extension and ILR Extension. He further spoke about the current rise of engagement discourse at Cornell and beyond. cPARN members Justine Lindemann and John Armstrong rounded out the discussion by cataloguing the report's recommendations regarding graduate student funding, formalized graduate student networks, and broader support structures for Extension as well as engaged faculty (tenure & promotion, hiring, and coursework).

The discussion following the event pointed to a lack of broad community participation in the direction of public engagement at Cornell alongside the complex nature of institutional change. Now the report authors will focus on sharing the report with key administrators who can advocate for the recommendations outlined in the presentation and the full report.

Below is a full-length recording of the presentation and discussion.

The full-length report can be accessed below.

We're so very thankful for all the support we've received in writing and publishing this report. The people involved are too numerous to mention here. However, we'd like to specifically point out the support of Cornell's Graduate School who funded the video production you see above.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Engaging Research/Engaging Cornell--Report Released!

Hello everyone,

Soon we will upload a video of our presentation, Put for now, please feel free download a copy of our graduate student report on engaged research. Feel free to share it far and wide.

This work has been two years in the making and we're happy to make it available to you here today.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

cPARN members releasing report on graduate student engaged research

Engaging Research/Engaging Cornell: 

Graduate Students, Public Engagement, 

and the Land Grant Mission of Cornell University

January 27, 2015

12:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Mann 102

Please join us for the release of a new research report on graduate student efforts to undertake publicly engaged research at Cornell. This report, over two years in the making, is brought to you by four graduate student members of the Cornell Participatory Action Research Network (cPARN).

Over the past few years, Cornell has joined a long list of higher education institutions across the United States and the world in taking up the call of publicly engaged scholarship. Following on Engaged Learning + Research’s 2012 “Graduate Student Engagement Survey,” the report explores the experience of students who are active in or exploring their interest in “engaged scholarship.” Additionally, the report investigates claims made by the University regarding its strategic goal of “Excellence in Public Engagement.” The bulk of the presentation will focus on graduate student recommendations regarding funds, formal networks, and university support of graduate student publicly engaged research.

As the Engaged Cornell initiative unfolds, please join us for this important conversation regarding public engagement and graduate education and research at Cornell.

Light lunch will be provided. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to

The research team attending the International Doctoral Student
Seminar on Action Research in Bristol, UK. Report authors are
Todd Dickey, third from left; Melissa Rosario, seventh from
left, Justine Lindemann, eighth from left; and John Armstrong far right.
About the speakers:

John Armstrong, a Ph.D. candidate in Adult and Extension Education works with the Whole Community Project led by Jemila Sequeira, part of the national Food Dignity Grant. His dissertation considers engagement through a narrative lens using methods of institutional ethnography, discourse analysis, narrative interviewing, and first-person voice. You can follow, and contribute to, his dissertation-in-progress at

Todd Dickey is a Ph.D. candidate in Industrial and Labor Relations. His research focuses on public sector labor and employment relations and workplace conflict management. His dissertation examines the influence of an integrated conflict management system on dispute resolution outcomes, employee engagement, and organizational change at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Justine Lindemann is a Ph.D. student in Development Sociology, focusing domestically on the political ecology of race and cities, using food as a lens to better understand social relations and urban metabolisms in the postindustrial rustbelt. Through an exploration of various iterations of the urban food movement, she hopes to contribute to a better understanding of how everyday practices might contribute to radical democratic change in urban space and beyond.


Melissa Rosario, Ph.D., Anthropology, 2013, co-authored this report, but is not able to attend. A cultural anthropologist interested in the politics of autonomy for Caribbean peoples and marginalized U.S. groups, she currently holds a postdoctoral fellowship position at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

Co-Sponsored by:


Engaged Learning + Research

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Skill-sharing with Erin Heaney

Just this past Friday, ten folks got together in Mann 100 to meet with Erin Heaney and talk about some of the skills she and others have used in Buffalo while working with the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York.  This organization uses community-based research to fight for environmental justice in some very polluted industrial areas in and around Buffalo.  Through citizen science CACWNY organized hundreds of local residents in Tonawanda--making sure a large polluter, the Tonawanda Coke company was brought to justice.  Here is a video telling the story of that research and action.

As you can see from the video this action was a huge success where citizen science and storytelling proved a powerful combination against corruption and corporate negligence.

Erin shared three resources with us that I've copied here with her permission.  All credit for these works go to the Clean Air Coalition.

She shared the Clean Air Coaltion's Academic Research Policy.  As many community based organizations know--doing work with academic institutions is not often a reciprocal relationship.  This inequity in research-based relationships plays out in funding, authorship, and impact.  Take a look at their Academic Research Policy.

Take section 3 for example--simple and to the point.  "Community-based research projects are designed in ways that enhance the capacity of residents to participate in the process."  Living that practice out to the fullest extent is a real challenge for university folks accustomed to top-down decision making and project implementation.

When someone wants to do research with CACWNY, they immediately receive the policy and are required to submit a research proposal.  Erin mentioned that the academics not serious about the work simply don't come back.  But some academics do, and they've proven valuable assets.  Some comments were made that Ithaca needs such a policy as well to protect citizens from incessant waves of extractive research.

Erin Heaney at this week's skill-share
Erin shared two other resources with us:  a participatory budgeting ballot they've recently used, and a stories project they've done with the residents of Tonawanda.  Both of the links above will let you look at those documents now stored in our PARchives.  The participatory budgeting process referenced in the first resource was a useful political strategy demanding community voices inform the spending of the 200 million dollar settlement that was awarded through the successful litigation of Tonawanda Coke.  The stories project supported CACWNY organizing work with local residents and elected officials.  Check them out!

Soon we hope to link to a recording of her larger talk given through EngagedCornell's speaker series.  But in the meantime check out the Clean Air Coalition's work here!

Some other notes from the day:

Building off of CACWNY's stories project, I (John) was able to share a bit about the Story Circle process I was introduced to recently.  A quick one-page description of that process is here along with some more extensive resources.   I learned the history of the story circle via the 50th Anniversary of the Free Southern Theater held this October in New Orleans .  Dudley Cocke just did a recent blog post inspired by the event if you're curious to learn more about community-based theater, the arts, and democracy.

The skill-share event with Erin was a success, those attending echoed their support for figuring out how we can have more.  As was mentioned during the event, transportation to on-campus events limits the larger community's ability to attend and so I think we're going to try and hold future skill-shares in a downtown location.  Ideas?

Let us know what you think of the resources above and the possibilities of doing this again sometime soon!  Comment below!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hermeneutics of Love in the Academy

     The Ivory Tower is cold, I’ve been told.  And, it is.  Knowledge for sale.  People as discrete chunks for
     analysis.  But, we are not cold specimens nor coded anecdotes.  If we objectify and fetishize each other and
     our stories, we risk the danger and violence of not seeing each other as human beings.  However, I have
     learned to believe in people again – or, at least, certain people – when we took the risk of choosing love as our
     hermeneutic, our lens, for not just our work, our relationships, our research, but our selves.
                    from A Love Note to Sisters in Struggle, Leah Sicat
Gloria AnzaldĂșa: image found at
If you put the phrase "love as a hermeneutic" into Google's search engine, what will result may surprise you. First, you'll find links to scripture and theological analyses of love particularly rooted in Judeo-Christian traditions; next, you'll find a bunch of folks, including Chela Sandoval and Gloria AnzaldĂșa,  leaning towards the politically radical in their take on how to be in the world, how to care for one another, and on what really matters. 

These seemingly strange bedfellows aren't quite as unfamiliar to one another as you might think, though--and that's a whole other blog post. Think, in part, of liberation theology; think also of pedagogical techniques from Freire to hooks and beyond for figuring out how to nurture one another's growth. More on that later. 

For now, though, I wanted to point folks to the article that Leah Sicat posted on The Feminist Wire recently--here's the link again. Sicat is a doctoral student in education, and takes up the rawness of the struggle of scholars trying to break through the coldness of the Ivory Tower and get to what really matters--to aim for that hermeneutics of love. She says:
I explore regenerative ideas and tools to uncover stories that have been structurally and historically silenced by heteronormative, misogynistic, and colonial narratives. As an education researcher-in-apprenticeship, part of this process includes reflecting on what I value in relationships and how values ground my movements. The move toward values was not only a step toward ethics but also methodologies – ones that value voice over further violence and fetishization.

This piece is well worth the read for the way she's grappling with how to bring together a commitment to relationships and dealing with the power-and-hierarchy-ridden, fundamentally alienating framework of the academy. At least, that's what I think. What do you think? 


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Two days with Randy Stoecker 4/19-4/20 Sign up!

If you don't know Randy Stoecker, you should.  Watch this

The event on Friday is open but you must RSVP for the Saturday workshop with Nidhi Subramanyam ( and/or Jia Li (