Our vision is to train an innovative, diverse STEM workforce to address challenges in Rivers, Watersheds, and Communities (RWC) as they relate to human and ecosystem health. Central to this vision is the transformation of the university from an ‘outreach’ oriented institution to an ‘engagement’ oriented one. In the outreach model, university researchers develop research programs based on what they believe the needs of the community should be and ultimately deliver results to the community through publications or extension. By contrast, an engagement model begins with the recognition that communities face diverse and complex issues, and that they may already possess a variety of assets to implement solutions or identify problems. When those assets are deployed in partnership with those of the university, solutions and opportunities are co-produced. Our program uses the engagement model as a powerful driver of new approaches to scientific training, research, and problem-solving. Instead of training students solely in disciplinary or multidisciplinary research practices, while envisioning they will develop the skills needed to translate their expertise to actual social-ecological problems, the engagement model embeds students in the multi-directional transfer of knowledge between communities, tribes, the university, agencies, and policymakers.
The engagement model is at the center of our training program because it promotes transdisciplinarity, which is characterized by its (1) focus on socially relevant issues, (2) ability to transcend and integrate across disciplines, (3) co-creation of research with communities, and (4) a deep search for a unity of knowledge.
Community Engagement Protocols
We will follow the Policy on Tribal Engagement, Consultation, and Consent for Joint WSU-Tribal Research Activities and Projects as set out by Executive Policy 41.
IRB 118 designation #18971-001.