Collaboration key to solving local problems: KnoxCollege offers resources to identify, help with solutions

From the Register-Mail:

Rhonda Brady has a question: why are so few black children participating in the Knox County Area Project’s summer water safety program?

She wants to know how she can address these kids and get them water safety training, since she wants all kids to know how to swim properly. But with KCAP’s limited state funding, she doesn’t have the manpower, time or resources to study the issue.

That’s where Knox College could come in, if discussions that took place at a Community-Based Research Workshop continue.

College faculty and local organization leaders, including KCAP, the Galesburg Community Foundation, Galesburg School District 205 and the Knox County Housing Authority, met early this week to discuss how the college and its resources can help the community identify and answer crucial questions.

Community-based research involves a collaboration between researchers (in this case, Knox faculty and students) and community partners (like KCAP). Researchers help the organization define a project’s objectives and guide the organization in completing the project with research methods with the goal of understanding and possibly solving a community problem.

“We already have a lot of classes and majors that put our students out in the community,” said Sandra Mehl, acting director of Knox’s Center of Research and Advanced Studies. “We want to formalize it a bit and create a way for community agencies to ask us to provide resources.”

Knox can provide time, analytical tools and technology that agencies like KCAP don’t have, while faculty and students complete projects that enrich them academically, Mehl said.