The Institute for Community Research conducts research in collaboration with community partners to promote justice and equity in a diverse, multiethnic, multicultural world.
ICR was founded in 1987 as a non-profit research institute to conduct applied and action research in partnership with communities and organizations in New England and beyond. Its Founding Executive Director, Jean J. Schensul, Ph.D., an anthropologist, came to ICR with the vision of creating an organization that stresses collaborative research to transform lives, build alliances, and address root causes of health and educational disparities in the U.S. and globally. That vision has grown with the addition of an interdisciplinary and diverse staff, to become a thriving local, national and international research institute. Read more…
Our work is based upon the following key principles:
- We work in collaboration and partnership with the communities affected by the problems we want to help them solve.
- We are committed to action for social justice to address disparities and change the root causes of inequity.
- Our research methods and programs are designed to understand and nurture cultural heritage, enhance community voice, and recognize and celebrate diversity of the individuals and communities with which we work.
- We use research results to design interventions in collaboration with communities that facilitate empowerment and advocacy and recognize the full context of people’s lives.
- We are dedicated to sharing our work with communities by using accessible, culturally meaningful and arts-based ways of disseminating research results to local audiences affected by an issue.
Areas of Work at ICR
- Health: ICR conducts research and tests interventions on health and public health issues with community partners locally, nationally, and internationally. This includes examining the root causes of health disparities among disadvantaged individuals and communities. Our projects have included substance use and prevention among youth and adults, HIV/AIDS risk and prevention in high-risk populations, mental health concerns across the age spectrum, and health promotion programs for women and older adults.
- Participatory Action Research (PAR): Participatory action research is an approach that involves people affected by a problem to work with researchers to understand and address its root causes. In PAR, participants use research-informed action to guide their efforts to create social change. Our PAR projects have involved partnerships with youth, adults and older adults to address social issues such as food justice, racism, substance use, HIV/AIDS risk and prevention, mental health and suicide prevention, and educational inequity, among others.
- Methods and Innovations: ICR integrates quantitative, qualitative and specialized methods to conduct community-based research. For example, with community partners, we develop new ways to generate participatory research models, health interventions for older adults and others, and community alliances to promote ethical community research. We develop new techniques to apply ethnographic, geospatial, social network, and sampling methods in research on health disparities, HIV/AIDS risk and prevention, substance use and prevention and other key issues. ICR uses a community gallery to bring together artists, researchers and community members to exchange ideas and envision solutions to social problems. Using participatory video, performance, visual and multimedia expression we creatively combine science and art to design interventions and to disseminate research results to diverse audiences.
- Cultural and Arts Programming: ICR’s deep collaborations with diverse communities and partners ensure that our research, interventions, educational, and artistic activities are grounded in cultural experiences, enhance community voice, and recognize and celebrate diversity in cultural expression and language. Through cultural conservation, field-based inquiry, documentation, and public programming, ICR cultivates emerging artists and sustains living cultural traditions and heritage art forms (CHAP) found in our neighborhoods. We also use cultural and artistic expression to design effective health interventions for HIV/AIDS prevention, health in older adults, and youth empowerment to avoid substance use, and to disseminate the results of research through the creative integration of science and art.
- Training and Capacity Building: ICR provides training and capacity building to individuals and organizations to engage communities, conduct research, mobilize for action, and enhance cultural expression by cultivating community artists. Our training in participatory action research (PAR) is appropriate for people of all ages and levels of research knowledge. We also train researchers to develop trusting, equitable community partnerships to engage in effective collaborative research and build community alliances to increase community/research partners’ ability to conduct research that benefits the community. ICR researchers also train and mentor the next generation of scientists to use mixed methods, interdisciplinary, and specialized methods to conduct community-based research. To learn about more training and capacity building opportunities, visit Work with ICR.
Read about ICR’s Policy on Financial Conflict of Interest.