Taking it to the Streets: Engaged Research in Political Science
Posted: 1 Oct 2015
Date Written: October 1, 2015
You cannot go back to every place you have ever been. But you can return to some. For social science researchers, it is all too common to conduct field research, learn what one can, and then be done with a place. This article argues there can be great value to engaging communities with research and taking results back to the “streets” after academic research has been completed. Not only is it generally morally right and the responsible thing to do, but it can also hold great meaning for people who contributed to research, provide an opportunity for new insights and validation of findings, and even stimulate new research topics as new issues arise. “Engagement” has become a buzzword across many scientific and social science fields, but has taken on a variety of meanings, and it has rarely been considered how to best engage after a project has been completed. While post- research engagement may not be appropriate or feasible for every setting or research project, this article urges researchers to think ahead about future engagement at the moment the research is being conducted, or even prior to setting foot on the ground. I discuss the literature on engagement from anthropology and political science. I then detail my recent engagement process of sharing results from a study of nonviolent mediation during civil conflict with the community of La India in Colombia.
Keywords: Field Research, Participatory Action Research, Engaged Scholarship, Colombia, Conflict Resolution
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