Research center wins grant to study ethics of community research

The Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California (CCREC), based at UC Santa Cruz, has been awarded a $277,550 grant to conduct a 15-month study on the ethics of research in local communities.

The grant comes from the Chicago-based Spencer Foundation, a leading national foundation that supports educational research to investigate ways in which education can be improved around the world.

CCREC was founded in August 2010 as a University of California multi-campus research program that links university researchers, community-based organizations, and policy-makers in collaborative projects to address the state’s interconnected crises in the economy, education, employment, environment, health, housing, and nutrition. It includes 30 faculty fellows across the UC system and with affiliations with multiple other research centers within and outside the UC system.

The project will be led by CCREC Director Ron Glass, an associate professor of philosophy of education at UC Santa Cruz. The research team will include Samara Foster, CCREC coordinator, and a CCREC doctoral student research assistant.

Joining the research team is Anne Newman, whose research and publications focus on the intersection of contemporary political philosophy and education policy. Before joining CCREC, Newman received her Ph.D. from Stanford University’s School of Education, served on the faculty of Washington University (St. Louis), and was awarded a National Academy of Education/ Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. 

The team’s objective is to provide guidance on complex issues at the core of research ethics. Glass said traditional notions of informed consent, confidentiality, and anonymity need to be re-thought and re-grounded “when communities study themselves, assisted by university researchers, in order to solve the actual social problems they face."

Glass believes that as more faculty, graduate students, and communities engage in research partnerships and collaborations, there is a critical need for clear guidance on what constitutes the “highest standards of academic integrity, respect of persons, and civic responsibility.”

Newman said "community-based research is a promising way to address urgent social issues, and we need to think carefully about how researchers and communities can produce ethically responsible, academically sound, and useful results. I'm really excited about this project because it tackles the intellectually rich and policy-important questions that this mode of research raises about ethics, epistemology, and research norms."