Academic journal article Southeastern Geographer

Toward a Publicly Engaged Geography: Polycentric: And Iterated Research

Academic journal article Southeastern Geographer

Toward a Publicly Engaged Geography: Polycentric: And Iterated Research

Article excerpt

Geographers and other scholars have advocated that academics undertake more publicly engaged research, and university administrators increasingly support these calls. Grassroots and policy-focused engagement models derive from different disciplinary origins, but come to similar conclusions. They find that effective research engagement should link multiple academic and non-academic groups in a polycentric (multi-centered) web or network. These require iterated (repeated) interactions across these groups to develop effective communication and common agendas for action. The discipline of geography reveals a parallel history, encompassing clusters of research around policy decision support, activism and advocacy, and participatory capacity-building and community development. Geographers are well prepared to play key brokerage roles as diverse scientific, public, private, non-profit, and grassroots groups pursue collaborative boundary-spanning activities. As faculty or professional staff, we bring skills in integration across diverse disciplinary, professional, and practical orientations, as well as cross-scalar analyses.

Los geografos y otros estudiosos han defendido que los academicos realicen investigaciones mas comprometidas con el publico, y los administradores universitarios cada vez mas apoyan estas iniciativas. Los modelos de participacion de base y enfocados en politicas derivan de diferentes origenes disciplinarios, pero llegan a conclusiones similares. Estos encuentran que la participacion eficaz de investigacion debe vincular a varios grupos academicos y no-academicos en una web o una red policentrica (de multiples centros). Esto requiere repetidas interacciones a traves de estos grupos para desarrollar una comunicacion efectiva y agendas comunes para la accion. La disciplina de la geografia revela una historia paralela, que abarca conglomerados de investigacion alrededor de politicas decisivas de apoyo, activismo y defensa, y desarrollo participativo de creacion de capacidad y comunidad. Los geografos estan bien preparados para desempenar un papel clave de gestion como diversos grupos cientificos, publicos, privados, sin fines de lucro persiguiendo actividades colaborativas que sobrepasan bordes. Como profesores o personal profesional, traemos destrezas de integracion a traves de diversas orientaciones disciplinarias, profesionales, y practicas, asi como analisis multi-escalares.

KEY WORDS: Decision-relevant research, User-driven research, Participatory methods, Action research, Public geography

PALABRAS CLAVE: investigacion relevante a la toma de decisiones, investigacion impulsada por el usuario, metodos participativos, investigacion de accion, geografia publica


Since the mid-twentieth century, an increasing number of scholars, funders, and academic administrators have advocated that researchers establish more publicly engaged understandings of their professional missions and methodological options (Fals-Borda and Rahman 1991; Boyer 1996; KCFSLGU 2000; Alperovitz et al. 2008; Hale 2008; Fitzgerald et al. 2010). Understandings of what constitutes engagement differ, however. To some, engagement includes virtually any scholarship with a public or popular mission, regardless of scholarly merit, and no matter how vaguely the mission might be defined. To others, engagement requires fairly explicit agreements between researchers with advanced academic training and non-academic partners, outlining shared goals and strategies, laying out action plans, and allocating responsibilities. The present discussion focuses on a range of efforts that involve both academic and non-academic partners in developing research questions and methodologies, and/ or in conducting data collection and analysis. In some instances, goals, plans, and agreements are explicitly negotiated between the academic and non-academic partners. In other instances, such agreements are implicit, but still require focused consideration of the vision, goals, and future of all involved partners. …

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