Blog | Research & Development | Centre For Excellence

Co-Creation in Applied Research: Creating a new kind of knowledge

The following post was written by  Dr. Martha Fanjoy, Researcher at the School of Global Access

As our two-year research project Enhancing the Wellbeing of immigrant Women Retirees concludes, our research team engaged our colleagues from across Calgary in a conversation about collaborative research and knowledge co-creation. Our project is a great example how co-creation works as a tool that supports a deeper understanding of the social issues we study and how its outcomes can help to develop responsive policies and practices.

On Friday, March 15, 2019 our final knowledge mobilization event, Methods for Change: Knowledge Co-Creation Across Disciplines and Sectors, welcomed over 25  interdisciplinary academics and service providers to a collaborative workshop focused on co-creation methodology and community-based applied research, its application across disciplines, and its intersection with both non-profit and public sectors and their stakeholders.

Leading into a productive World Café discussion focused on community-based research, I was joined by my colleagues from the University of Calgary, Dr. Rita Henderson, assistant professor with the Cumming School and Dr. Hieu Ngo, assistant professor with the Faculty of Social Work for a research panel presentation. We each shared aspects of how our recent work with co-creation methodologies, while complex and imperfect, are at their core projects that include the voices and experiences of research participants that can help researchers be attentive to the process of knowledge production and how this process can limit or impede research outcomes.

Days after our successful Methods for Change workshop, I attended a national conference to share the outcomes of our project. Working with colleagues from the New Brunswick Multicultural Council, Laurentian and Dalhousie Universities and our project partners Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association, I organized a panel for this year’s Metropolis Conference that was held in Halifax from March 21-23, 2019. Our panel, Thinking Outside the Sector: Embracing Complexity to Improve Settlement Outcomes, explored what happens when settlement service design is pushed beyond the boundaries of the sector and engages with mainstream and informal supports. I presented on how our SSHRC-funded Enhancing the Wellbeing of Immigrant Women Retirees embraced the innovative ways community, service agency, academic, government, and industry actors are building bridges and breaking down walls, between sectors, and formal and informal supports.

Over the duration of this project, the research team and I have had a number of opportunities to share our learnings with our research participants, academic colleagues, service agency providers, and various government representatives and policy makers. We are grateful for the support from our project partners and the guidance of our steering committee. While the project is wrapping up, the work will continue as we endeavour to share our outcomes and continue to champion the value and importance of co-creation and collaborative research.