Randy Stoecker: From Colonizing Research to Strategizing Change
International Studies in Planning Spring 2013
Randy Stoecker is a professor in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, with a joint appointment at the University of Wisconsin's Extension Center for Community and Economic Development. He moderates COMM-ORG: The On-Line Conference on Community Organizing, conducts trainings, and speaks frequently on community organizing and development, community-based participatory research/evaluation, higher education community engagement strategies, and community information technology. He has collaborated with numerous participatory action research projects, community technology projects, and empowerment evaluation processes with community development corporations, community-based leadership education programs, community organizing groups, and other non-profits in North America and Australia. Stoecker has written extensively on community organizing and development and higher education engagement with community, including Defending Community (Temple University Press 1994), Research Methods for Community Change, 2e (Sage Publications 2013), the coauthored book Community-Based Research in Higher Education (Jossey-Bass 2003) and the coedited book The Unheard Voices: Community Organizations and Service Learning (Temple University Press 2009).
Stoecker's talk will look at research options available to community planners. "There are many reasons to do community-based research (CBR). For some of us, CBR has been a means of decolonizing the research process. In contrast to colonizing research — which extracts information from people, adds 'value' in the sense of packaging the information for consumption, and then exchanges it in the academic marketplace for the researchers' professional gain — decolonizing research works collaboratively with the research 'subjects' to produce knowledge of value to the people themselves. Hence, we get the various community-based and participatory-action research practices. But is that good enough? Can we go beyond simply collaboratively producing knowledge to carefully and sophisticatedly integrating the research process with a strategic action process?"