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Mobilizing Community and Academic Knowledge to Address the UN SDG’s


Budd L Hall and Rajesh Tandon, Co-Chairs, UNESCO Chair in CBR and Social Responsibility in Higher Education

Community-Based Participatory Researchers from Universities and civil society organizations from 10 countries gathered in New Delhi on November 13, 2017 to kick-off the Knowledge for Change Global Consortium (K4C).  The K4C, an initiative of the UNESCO Chair in Community-Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education, has as its goal to train the next generation of Community-Based Participatory Researchers. The critical missing step in the implementation plans for the UN SDGs is a process where academics and community based knowledge workers can co-create knowledge that is locally contextualized and globally significant. Without attention to the particularities of the local, the grand goals of the SDGS will not gain traction in local life.  As the phrase goes, “you may hitch your horse to the wagon, but if the wheels do not touch the ground, you will not move forward. Participatory research is an approach to knowledge creation, learning and action that generates knowledge in response to the issues and challenges articulated by the community itself.  CBPR recognizes that universities do not hold a monopoly on knowledge creation and that in and of themselves, traditional approaches to research will prove insufficient to the challenges of the UN SDGs. Led by Dr. Rajesh Tandon of PRIA, India and Budd Hall, University of Victoria, Canada, the K4C makes the case that a critical element will be necessary to develop if we are to have a chance of reaching the ambitious UN SDGs.  Mr Shigeru Aoyagi, Director of the UNESCO India office noted in his opening remarks that the UNESCO Chair in CBR and Social Responsibility in Higher Education was, “the or one of the most active of all of the UNESCO Chairs in the world”. His office and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO have been enthusiastic supporters of these new initiatives. The organizational support of the Chair is supplied jointly by the University of Victoria located in British Columbia, Canada and the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) headquartered in New Delhi, India.

A previous global study of training opportunities in the field of CBR undertaken by the Chair with support from Canada’s Social Science and Humanities Research Council provided evidence of a strong demand for learning how to do CBR but a frustratingly limited supply of locations where such learning can take place (Tandon et al 2016). The K4C Consortium has been designed utilizing a transformative pedagogical model that combines on-line distance provision with opportunities for field work and intensive face to face workshops. The mentors themselves bring a depth of experience in diverse settings, cultures and languages which are a key element of the learning model as well. The first step in building the K4C Global Consortium will be a Mentor Training Program for mentors, persons with significant community based research experience. The mentors will be nominated by the initial training ‘Hubs’ and will be responsible for creating a series of local CBPR training in their own local linguistic, cultural and organizational contexts. The second stage of the K4C, which will be led by the mentors who complete the Mentors Training Program will be the creation of local training hubs. The hubs will consist of partnerships between universities and civil society organizations, an organizational principle in line with the practice of community-university co-creation of knowledge.

Dr. N.V. Varghese, Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, who hosted the kick-off event noted that, “our aim is to produce more than 1300 community-based researchers and mentors in the first phases of our work”.  Prof S.K Pandey, Vice-Chancellor of Pt. Ravishankar Shukla University in Raipur, India said that, “Either universities find a way to give back to society or society will have little interest in their continued existence”.  Dr. Andrea Vargiu of the University of Sassari in Italy added, “this approach to the co-creation of knowledge allows us to transcend two dominant challenges of higher education research, unifying the global and the local and achieving a transdisciplinary process”

Among the universities and organizations that met in New Delhi to plan the next steps in the K4C Global Consortium were: Sunan Ampel State Islamic University of Surabaya, Indonesia, O.P. Jindal Global University, India, Manipal University, Jaipur, India, Pt. R. S. University, Raipur, India, Gulu University, Uganda, Durban Institute of Technology, South Africa, University of Victoria, Canada, Open University of Catalonia, Spain, University of Sassari, Italy, and PRIA, India.


Tandon, R., Hall, B., Lepore, W. & Singh, W. (2016). Knowledge and Engagement: Building Capacity for the Next Generation of Community Based Researchers. New Delhi/Victoria: PRIA/University of Victoria. [Free download available at: https://unescochair-cbrsr.org/pdf/resource/Knowledge%20&%20Engagement_26-09-16_pdf%20ver-mail.pdf ]

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