Cornell University

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From doing science for, to doing science with: The promise of working with community-based organizations, by Raj Pandya

Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Auditorium 159 Sapsucker Woods Road

Almost across the street from the busiest airport in the world sits the five-acre Metro Atlanta Urban Farm, an organic oasis, a center for neighborhood revitalization, and one of the few places to get fresh fruits and vegetables in an urban food dessert. It is also a way for people in the neighborhood to learn about food, agriculture, history, community organizing, and science. For the last several years, through a partnership with Cornell, the farm has also been a way for university professors and administrators to learn how to work with community-based organizations. 
Through partnerships like this, the traditional loading-dock model of distant institutions doing science for communities is giving way to model of doing science with communities - a model I’ll call community science.   Community since engages scientists and communities, as well as community organizations and academic institutions, as co-leaders and mutual learners.  Together, they decide what questions to investigate, how to collect data, and how to apply results for impact.   In community science, scientists and community leaders are equal partners with equally valuable skills, expertise and perspective. In community science, science is one of many ways of knowing and scientific outcomes and community priorities are equally important.
Community science is a relatively new way of working, and it pulls individuals and institutions in new directions.  Not surprisingly, this isn’t without some growing pains.  I’d like to spend most of the seminar focused on what Cornell and its faculty can do to manage these growing pains and be even better partners to community organizations and their members.  I’ll use on-the-ground projects in communities through the US and around the world to provide concrete advice for doing community science and concrete examples of the impact of community science.  I’ll especially highlight learning and examples from the NOISE project, in which the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is working with over a dozen community-based organizations across the US and Mexico. 

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Cornell Lab of Ornithology



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Raj Pandya

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American Geophysical Union

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