ICR approaches research from a commitment to building action research partnerships that bring a variety of partners together around common interests, a scientific interest in knowledge creation, and a desire to solve specific problems in the community. Our four research methods - basic research, intervention research, participatory action research, and cultural conservation and development -increase a community's access to the tools they need to address inequities, promote a greater public voice in health and education, and foster cultural conservation and development. Our methods embody the following components: a long-term commitment to our partner communities, keeping residents' perspective in the forefront, ensuring the flexibility and rigor of research design, cost-sharing with community partners, and building linkages with scholar-activists and community scholars in the community.
Basic research at ICR provides enhances or creates a theoretical foundation on topics that have been overlooked or about which little is known. Often working in collaboration with high-risk, minority populations, our basic research projects often lead to further investigation or intervention strategies. Our basic research tackles issues that come from needs of our partner communities, have relevance to broad social issues, and contributes significantly to the research field. Topics our basic research projects have explored include HIV/AIDS risk and infection patterns, prescription and club drug use patterns and networks among youth, and depression among elderly living in public and private housing.
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ICR's intervention research tests, documents and evaluates theoretically-based intervention approaches that have practical solutions for health, educational and cultural problems. Often addressing issues highlighted by results from our basic research projects, our intervention research models are developed in collaboration with community members. Their cultural, social and economic realities drive project design. Topics covered by our intervention research projects have included working with drug users to promote risk reduction policies and behaviors among their peers, testing a social development curriculum with public middle school students, and evaluating a culturally-based HIV/STD intervention model with males in Mumbai, India.
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Participatory Action Research
ICR's strategy of participatory action research engages the public in dialogue about issues that are of concern to them. Participatory action research is a partnership between the affected community and researcher where the community is actively involved in all phases of the research project: defining the problem, designing the research methodology, collecting data, and analyzing and disseminating results. ICR has used participatory action research as a capacity building and prevention approach for youth and adults in the greater Hartford, CT area. Issues that have been addressed include sexual identity and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning youth, working with young girls and their mothers as a drug, alcohol and tobacco prevention model, and engaging residents around issues of community and family strengthening. Through our community-based PAR approach, ICR has also developed culturally specific training materials.
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Cultural Conservation and Development
Fostering cultural heritage and social identity, and providing individuals with the opportunity to present themselves in their own voice, is integral to a healthy community. Through cultural conservation and development, ICR sustains traditions and heritage art forms in communities, and supports access to, and development and expansion of artistic resources. We use field-based inquiry, documentation and public programming to educate youth, policymakers, educators and residents about the unique cultural heritage and traditions found in their communities. We work with urban artists, cultural associations, arts organizations, and community groups to help residents understand their own cultural identity and to relate their cultural heritage with the social and economic issues confronting their communities.
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Click here for more information about our Youth Action Research Institute