Collaboration in the Community

How many of us have heard that research in the humanities has no "real-world" value? An emerging initiative on campus has proven that narrative wrong.

Four years ago, Dr. Keith Carlson and the College of Arts & Science began the Community-Engaged Collaboratorium, which partners with communities and organizations to identify research projects that undergraduate and graduate students from the humanities and social sciences are then hired to work on. Many projects focus on collecting and analysing Indigenous histories as a means of contributing to justice and social change. For instance, one student worked on an inclusivity report aimed at decolonizing Canadian museums. Meanwhile, another team of undergraduate researchers wrapped up a multi-year project for Legal Aid Saskatchewan, which focused on developing a database of colonial history in the province. Going forward, the research will be used to inform the over-representative population of Indigenous people in the legal system.

After working with Indigenous communities for most of his research career, Carlson saw the potential for undergraduate student involvement not only as a means of benefitting his partners, but also as a way for young researchers to gain experience early on in their careers. It’s about more than research. It’s an opportunity for students to understand firsthand how significant humanities research is, and how it can impact real people in the real world – the pinnacle of a rising movement within academia called “Community-Engaged Scholarship.”

This type of collaborative work at the undergraduate level is new to the U of S, but Carlson hopes that will soon change as more and more faculty members come to realize what he has known all along – that “You don't need to wait until you're a master's student to start doing really meaningful research.”

The Collaboratorium’s contributions prove that when it comes to tackling projects with real-world impact, age is just a number, and a focus on humanities is anything but useless.

The Community-Engaged History Collaboratorium is located in the College of Arts & Science, Room 110b. For more information, email collaboratorium@usask.ca.

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