Building Effective Relationships for Community-Engaged Scholarship in Canadian Food Studies
How can community-engaged scholars best undertake grounded, policy-relevant, food systems research and teaching in ways that support the capacity of—and meaningfully build on—the experiences of civil society organizations working on these issues in Canada? This paper analyzes four case studies in the context of a research project that brings together members of the Canadian Association for Food Studies and Food Secure Canada. One case was led by Region of Waterloo Public Health and faculty from the University of Waterloo; a second by the Food Security Research Network at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and the North Superior Workforce Planning Board; a third by the national student organization Meal Exchange and Ryerson University in Toronto; and a fourth by the BC Food Systems Network. We argue that the answer to the question above lies in establishing respectful relationships and recognizing the different cultures involved, and we offer five methodological insights for building effective relationships in practice. The first is the need to disaggregate the concept of ‘community’ in order to acknowledge the distinct needs and assets of the diverse organizations and populations involved. Our second and third insights are linked: Establish the relationship around a shared vision, and then negotiate mutually-beneficial teaching or research projects. Fourth, practitioners should approach community-campus engagement through the framework of contextual fluidity, which includes seeing the relationships and the vision at the heart of the work, while remaining open to shifts and new opportunities. Finally, adopting community capacity building practices helps practitioners realize their shared vision.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms: Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work. (See more on Open Access.)