Council on Anthropology and Education
Oral Presentation Session
Carla McNelly (Georgia State University)
Julio Cammarota (University of Arizona)
Within university-community partnerships, universities generally disseminate research knowledge with a top-down approach. This paper documents a post-doctoral researcher’s and associate professor’s experiences of partnering with community-based organizations where their training and intuition pushed the boundaries of their academic appointments. As researchers from a heartland university whose mission is outreach, we were tasked with forming partnerships with community-based organization’s afterschool programs. Our practices were participatory by engaging youth in research projects with the purpose of making critical change in their schools. We found our loyalties to the youth did not blend with the expectations placed on us by the institution. Drawing on the unique experiences with youth members of community-based organizations, we theorize the notion of critical participatory outreach. The theory of critical participatory outreach combines critical pedagogy, participatory action research, and a transformative democratic approach to engaging communities and universities to create partnerships, share knowledge, and interrupt systems of oppression. In this paper, we define the theory of critical participatory outreach combined with our narratives which feature how our participation in a university-community partnership pushed the boundaries of our academic positions. This is important because as activist scholars, our personal testimonies encourage universities to move past conversations of engaging leadership in outreach missions toward the notion of critical participatory outreach.
Key words: Critical Pedagogy, Action Research, Community Engagement