Faculty Research and Community Involvement
The Community Studies Department represents a cross-section of disciplines and professional areas.
The research produced by the department is indicative of this diversity. The research is both individually and collaboratively produced, and is presented through a variety of formats. The formats used to disseminate research produced by the faculty members include scholarly articles, presentations and reports. It is shared with everyone from academic peers to community organizations and the media locally, regionally and nationally.
In many instances, students can become actively involved in research that makes a difference!
The disciplines represented in the research of current department faculty include: adult education, health, human kinetics, social work and women’s studies.
Community involvement within the internal (CBU) and external communities (Cape Breton) as well as individual professional or academic disciplines is a long-standing tradition in the Community Studies Department. A few examples of the community organizations our faculty have been involved with are presented below.
- Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton County
- Cape Breton Mental Health Services Charitable Foundation
- Association for Safer Cape Breton Communities
- School Advisory Councils
- Cape Breton Interagency on Family Violence
- Transition House Foundation
- L’Arche Community
Student Research and Community Intervention
Some Community Studies students will go on to become researchers. Many will likely become consumers of research in their careers. One of the objectives of the Community Studies 210: Applied Research course is for the students to be able to differentiate between good and bad or flawed research.
Some examples of research topics involving both primary and secondary research are:
- the Cape Breton economy
- television commercials and gender roles
- parents and hockey violence
- substance abuse in high school
- homelessness in Eastern Canada
- police facilitated youth programs
- police retirements in Canada
- Cape Breton music
- nutrition and exercise habits of CBU students
- electronic game addiction
- connection between media violence and violent behaviour
- motivation and regular physical activity
- positive and negative effect of economic growth on Membertou First Nation
- Membertou residents opinions of Mi’kmaq preschool immersion program
- housing options for low income seniors
- women throughout the generation: changes in values regarding education, careers and family life
In Community Studies 310: Community Intervention, students develop and implement Projects in the Community. Here is an example of a student project that has lasting impact:
A student group chose the establishment of an elementary school library as their community intervention project. The students researched and identified the requirements, problems and solutions for establishing a school library in a school where one had not previously existed. They implemented every aspect of a workable library as well as recruited and trained volunteers to operate the library. The library continues to offer an extended and rewarding learning environment to children in this elementary school several years later.
The Community Studies students acknowledged that the project had an impact on their group. They stated that “Our group skills improved as we continued with the intervention. Communication skills, interpersonal skills, writing skills, research skills, and leadership skills were used frequently throughout the year. We recognized which of these skills each group member excelled in and used this knowledge to improve and practice these skills.”
The former Principal of the school noted, “just as I have retired from the teaching profession, these university students have long since moved on in life, but the impact of these students has resulted in a lasting legacy to each and every one who participated; the library is still utilizing the methodology they developed and the library is successfully fulfilling the purpose that these students set out to accomplish when they assumed the challenge of launching our school library” (Beaton 2006).
Other examples of community interventions include:
- an after-school reading program to help address literacy issues in elementary school
- workshops designed to help adult learners overcome barriers to university education
- implementation of a forum on gay marriage where both sides of the issue were presented
- creation of a wheelchair accessible playground at a day care center
- working with aboriginal elders to reconstruct a neglected aboriginal cemetery
- implementation of a recycling program at a wildlife park
- social development programs for autistic children
- establishment of a steering committee for Habitat for Humanity
- educational workshop series on Food Insecurity
- mentoring service for CBU online students
- using Facebook as an educational tool for university students on binge drinking issues
- an afterschool physical activity program for elementary students
- recruitment of the new blood donors from post-secondary students
- promoting the usage of the Jennifer Keeping Accessibility Center
- assisting an animal shelter
- addressing dating abuse issues
- reading and parents program for children
Working with community partners is a valuable learning experience for the students.