January 19, 2017
These last few months have been challenging for many in our community. The tone of exclusionary discourse and the threat of further vulnerability at the hand of proposed federal policies has stoked fear. Back in November, we shared that Aquinas Center would respond to this shift by focusing our energies on our one city block. We might not be able to make a dent in the national dialogue, but we can live our mission boldly right here, right now.
Aquinas Center will have improved capacity to do this work thanks to a large multi-year research-practice grant from the Spencer Foundation, which will fund a new phase of our partnership with the University of Pennsylvania.
As a result, marginalized voices will be amplified. The pursuit of just social policies will be informed by the lived experience of our community. Traditional academic paradigms will be re-imagined.
Aquinas Center and the Reading, Writing and Literacy department at the Graduate School of Education will share $400,000 over three years to do the following:
- Promote research as a fundamental human right, specifically for those who are economically, socially, and educationally vulnerable.
- Fund program coordination and training for community members to empower themselves through the types of research tools normally the exclusive purview of universities.
- Maintain participatory research with community members, who would be involved in all aspects of the research process, from deciding its focus, how to approach the identified problems, collecting and analyzing data, and disseminating findings.
- Create a networked research hub located in the community, at the Aquinas Center. This includes computers, audio/video recorders to data collection, quantitative and qualitative analysis software, and security protections.
- Develop a website that will serve as a central point of access and repository for the research being conducted through the partnership.
- Make research findings and research-based practices accessible. For example, by condensing academic articles into jargon free research briefs, translated into multiple languages, that could be downloaded from the website. These could be used by city council members, funders, and other decision makers.
Stay tuned for exciting ways to become involved in this new season of activist scholarship by and for the Aquinas community.