A Juggling Act

Posted on January 16, 2008

Connecting research and community, explains Darrell P. Wheeler (bio), is one way to become an agent of social change.

 

Making the decisions, making the judgments between when to say "Yes" and when to say "No" to non-academic endeavors for me blends with my discipline, social work.

A lot of what we do in social work is really about preparing our students to be effective practitioners, and, as we like to say in our introductory classes, agents of social change. And if I can connect my research to that mission, then I don’t have to say "No" as much because I can bring students into the activities. I can bring community into the activities, and I can still contribute to a scholarly agenda.

But that has taken a while to do because often times doing the community-type work that I’d like to do takes much more effort because you have to build that community support. You have to bring more players on board, and it looks very different than doing a study on a group intervention or an evaluation study where the data is more compact and the players are many fewer in number.

I guess different people have opted to take different pathways, but for me, the pathway to remain connected to the community has been the most paramount activity in my career. If I didn’t have that connection to community, I don’t think I would be personally satisfied as an academic in the work that I do. And so I’ve had to find ways to assure that the work that I do feeds many different audiences. And that’s been a juggling act as well.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher in September 2007.

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