Institute for Community Research
Areas of Work

Areas of Work

Areas of Work and Services at ICR

Health Disparities Research:

ICR has conducted research and tested interventions on health and public health issues with community partners in local, national, and international settings. 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. Many of our health studies have been conducted in international settings, including India, China, El Salvador, and other locations.

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, system dynamics modeling, 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.

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.

Positive Cultural Considerations:

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.

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