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Community Outreach Through Research

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Community Engaged Scholarship uses research to help support the communities in which the research is being conducted through direct engagement with community members. Through strategic partnerships, the faculty of KU’s Communication Studies department seek to gain greater insights into the people which their research affects. In turn, the community members cooperating with the research effort benefit from the information and insights gained through the projects.  Engaging in research partnerships with community stakeholder’s builds and strengthens relationships between KU and the surrounding communities.  Of particular interest is the work being done by Dr. Dave Tell, Dr. Angela Gist-Mackey, and Dr. Adrianne Kunkel.  

Dr. Dave Tell is the Director and Principal Investigator of the Emmett Till Memory Project (ETMP), which involves scholars from across the country, graphic design firms in Mississippi and New York City, historical preservation experts, software developers, and historical advisors (academic historians and public historians). Dr. Tell’s work is a collaborative, trans media project to preserve the memory of Emmett Till through providing resources to the public to learn about his murder and legacy. This project’s goal is to commemorate the 1955 murder of Emmet Till and it’s significance in the American civil rights movement. The EMTP uses a GPS smartphone app to guide visitors to ten different locations related to the death which also provide the different stories and perspectives of the murder.  At each of these sites the visitor will hear the significance of the site in 1955 and how it has been remembered since then. 

While she is ever involved in engaged research, most recently, Dr. Angela Gist-Mackey has partnered with community organizations in the KC-Metro area to understand social mobility and poverty in the area. With the help of doctoral student, Anthony Guy, completed a study in partnership with United Community Services of Johnson County.  The focus of this project was to better understand the decisions low-income workers face when they have social support and when they lack it. Dr. Gist-Mackey and Anthony Guy presented their findings to the United Community Services to help inform their larger Employment Planning Project. Currently, Dr. Gist-Mackey is collaborating with Dr. Angie Pastorek, doctoral student Abigail Kingsford, and the non-profit Self-sustainability Through Employment Programming (STEP) Coalition to better understand the real life constraints of people dependent on the support of public assistance programs in metro Kansas City.  The STEP Coalition is a network of nonprofit social services organizations, corporations, and legislators who are interested in eradicating issues with public assistance in the metro Kansas City area. This project will explore the lived experience of public assistance policy thresholds on the working poor and unemployed.

Over the course of several years, Dr. Adrianne Kunkel’s research has focused on engaging with survivors’ experiences of abusive relationships and support. Along with two colleagues, Dr. Jennifer Guthrie and Dr. Suzy D’Enbeau, the research has been conducted at various locations in local, community-based domestic violence shelter and center and a local alcohol and drug rehabilitation center.  Collectively, she and her colleagues have produced award-winning scholarship focusing on the stories and experiences of domestic violence survivors (with Dr. Jennifer Guthrie) and the organization and advocates (with Dr. Suzy D’Enbeau) that serve them. Dr. Kunkel’s community-engaged research has opened many opportunities to share the findings with staff, boards of directors, facilitation of support groups for survivors, and the direct augmentation of organizational policies and individual strategies for empowerment of survivors of abuse.

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