Mapping community needs and potentials: public engagement as a method to communicate and promote findings from applied research
Pavla Burgos Tejrovská (Faculty of Humanities, Charles University in Prague)
Paper short abstract:
Based on public engagement strategies to promote the findings from applied research in two community development projects in the Czech Republic, I review the methods and challenges of representing community needs to the research subjects, to their community and to institutional and scientific audiences.
Paper long abstract:
This paper describes innovative public engagement strategies used to promote findings from applied research in two community development projects in the Czech Republic. Both projects are based on the premise that to effectively intervene in any social environment, you need an engaged and understanding local society. The first project is being run in 12 (mostly rural) locations with the aim of testing new instruments of integration of long-term unemployed people into the labor market. Within this project, interdisciplinary fieldwork findings about the regional potentials and needs are leading the local community leaders to comprehend human and landscape potentials, to promote them and use them for the creation of new job opportunities to satisfy the needs of the local society. In comparison, the second project explored the possibilities to reactivate the residents of one of Prague's historical districts, which was facing drastic transformations of public space without participatory planning of the community. Here, anthropological fieldwork analyzed emic understanding of local potential and "genius loci" of the public space. Findings were promoted by community leaders and institutions through a free local magazine and a website, which were created especially for this project. Open resident-experts discussions in those communication channels had the objective to mobilize the community to put pressure on decision makers in order to stop the drastic transformation of the district. Through these two examples, the ethical, social, legal and academic issues of representation when using public engagement to communicate the findings to the participating community and other audiences are revwieved
Engaged anthropology: Reality? Necessity? Utopia?