The challenges of co-creation and co-design in community research at the heart of the 2012 AHRC Connected Communities Summit

July 27th, 2012 by Caroline Chapain in Research | no comments

The AHRC Connected Communities Summit in Manchester was a great opportunity to share ideas and identify synergies with other past and current projects of the Connected Community programme. Most excitingly, it appears that our project commitment to co-creation and co-design is now very high on the AHRC agenda to research.

Indeed, one of the main foci of the Summit was to bring academic and community partners to reflect on the best ways to jointly develop research and generate research outcomes equally beneficial to both academic and communities. Ann Light (University of Northumbria), one of the participants, creatively illustrates this agenda by writing a very telling Haiku:

We say joint-purpose

Programme design with not for communities

We say: ‘Who is we?’

These preoccupations also run through many of the open sessions run by representatives from projects across the Connected Community programme. Of particular interest was a session on ‘Tackling ethical issues in community-based participatory research’ facilitated by Helen Graham (Leeds University), Tessa Holand (W. End Houding Co-op, Newcastle), Amelia Lee (Lik:t Project, Manchester) and Ann McNulty (Health and Race Equality Forum) during which were discussed issues of power between researchers and research participants in the context of co-inquiry and co-production.  The research team was also asking for feedbacks on the draft ethical guidelines that they have produced during their project – see http://www.dur.ac.uk/beacon/socialjustice/researchprojects/cbpr/

Very interestingly, some projects have also joined force to create the Participants United web resources (http://www.participantsunited.org/) which offers short sections and videos illustrating some of the challenges of co-inquiry such as ‘What is in it for us?’, ‘Respect’ …  These resources are most welcome as we are discussing ways to ensure continued joint-purpose and benefits throughout our project.

Without doubts, the Summit has sparked many new ideas and interests but has also raised questions with regard to any learning and resources created through similar community research programmes worldwide. This will be the theme of AHRC next year Summit and this should be quite interesting.

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