About the Centre
'Collaborating in research for social justice'
The Centre for Social Justice and Community Action is a research centre based at Durham University, made up of academic researchers from a number of departments and disciplines and community partners. Our aim is to promote and develop research, teaching, public/community engagement and staff development (both within and outside the university) around the broad theme of social justice in local and international settings, with a specific focus on participatory action research.
Participatory action research is a collaborative effort in which people whose lives might be affected by research are partners in designing, undertaking and disseminating research to influence socially just change. The Centre will link up and support community-university research collaborations in a number of ways.
We aim to provide
- An international centre of excellence for theoretically informed participatory and community-based research. We do not see 'thinking' or 'theory' as separate from 'practice', or Universities as the only place where thinking and theory happen.
- A locus for good practice in this type of research and associated initiatives in teaching, training, engagement and staff development.
The Centre has three co-Directors, Professor Sarah Banks, Professor Rachel Pain and Dr Andrew Russell, a steering group of academic and community advisors, an international advisory board, and a network of researchers and community organisations.
The work of the Centre is based on a framework of values that emphasises:
- The importance of participatory processes in community-university research partnerships, based on principles of cooperation, mutual respect, a valuing of expertise by experience and a striving towards equality of ownership and control;
- The importance of seeking research outcomes that lead to tangible benefits for research participants, particularly improving quality of life, redressing social injustice and inequalities in access to resources and power, and transforming ways of seeing, thinking and acting through fostering learning and increasing and consolidating knowledge, skills, confidence and power.
Members of the Centre are involved in research on issues with social justice at their heart, including youth welfare, criminal justice, fear of crime, health and wellbeing, migration and asylum, social work and care, climate change, environmental justice, globalisation, gender, violence, children’s participation and rights.
This research is conducted at sites including the UK, Mozambique, Nepal, Canada, Brazil, Finland, Tanzania, Bangladesh and China.
CSJCA is currently developing research agendas for its three themes, in consultation with those people in the community who are affected by each issue. Undergraduate student projects are supporting this effort. We are consulting asylum seekers and refugees, and a range of young people, in County Durham, to find out what issues affect them the most, and what their priorities for research are. Future research projects conducted by the Centre will focus on these issues.
The core areas on which our research will focus from 2010 - 2013 are:
- Asylum seekers and refugees
- Rural community development
- Young people
- Community action
The Centre's activities include:
- Research projects in partnership with community organisations
- Short training courses on participatory action research, co-inquiry groups and Socratic dialogue
- Seminars and conferences
- University-based teaching modules and programmes on community development and community action
- Support of student projects and activities
- Relevant publications, reports and other outputs.
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