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Community Engagement and Partnership Unit (CEPU)

Methods


Method 1: Develop mutually defined activities in which academic and community members interact and work together toward a common goal: The basic methods that we propose for community engagement and developing closer partnerships with members of the ADRDN involve structuring activities of three types: 1) training, educational, technical assistance, and mentoring programs for community members; 2) service learning activities for students to become engaged in working with community partners; and 3) research initiatives.


Method 2: Develop service learning efforts: These opportunities may be made available to students through three primary educational mechanisms. First, students enrolled in the COPH's MPH program are required to complete two capstone projects, one a community-based preceptorship and the second an integrated project. Second, a course on racial and ethnic health disparities was developed to combine traditional approaches to learning (i.e., didactic lectures, assigned readings, analysis, discussion) and service learning (including preparation, reflection, practice) to explore racial and ethnic health disparities in the United States. Students spend time in class with instructors and in the community with community based partners. Third, a service learning focus is being developed in two required DrPH classes in community-based public health program design and evaluation


Method 3: Developing collaborative research projects with Arkansas Delta Rural Network (ADRDN) partners: This is a function of a number of factors, including: 1) a match of priorities between communities and academic institutions; 2) available time and effort to commit to proposal development and implementation of the project; 3) expertise of the community/academic partners sufficient to generate a competitive grant/contract; and 4) a funding opportunity that matches the objectives/aims of the project and the scope of the project proposed by the investigative team.
       The key to building research collaborations, is to build on tje first two proposed approaches, building CBPR research capacity in the ADRDN coalitions and in COPH faculty, staff and students. Implement the first to approaches as planned, will build trust and partnerships and, hopefully, persist long enough to allow the four factors defined above to align and research collaborations to emerge. The CEPU will thus focus largely on the first two defined approaches but develop a system to: 1) summarize the public health priorities of ADRDN coalitions; 2) inform ARPRC community and academic members, as well as academic and state agency practitioners about these priorities in hopes of being able to "match" interests among researchers and community members; and 3) maintain a vigilant search for funding opportunities, informing all parties of opportunities which match interests/priorities.


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