Thursday, January 17, 2019

Center for Healthy Communities Hosts Forum on Community-Engaged Scholarship

The University of South Alabama Center for Healthy Communities, in partnership with the USA Translational Research Service Center and the USA Office of Community Engagement, recently hosted its 3rd forum on community-engaged scholarship, "Building Blocks for Impactful Community Engagement Toward Health Equity."

According to Dr. Martha Arrieta, director of research at the USA Center for Healthy Communities and associate professor of internal medicine at the USA College of Medicine, this year's forum had a two-fold objective: to focus on key elements of community engagement that foster progression to health equity, and to foster interconnections between researchers and community-based organizations working toward health equity in the community.

"Community engagement entails the building of bi-directional bridges between academia and its community of service in order to create a collaboration space where powerful synergy is possible through the creation of a dynamic interface between the expertise and resources of the university and the lived experience, practical knowledge and strong advocacy of community members," Dr. Arrieta said. "It is accepted that there is great potential in such collaboration to realize the changes - both within the university and the community - that move the needle towards health equity."

The morning keynote speaker was Dr. Tabia Henry Akintobi, professor of community health and preventive medicine, associate dean of community engagement, principal investigator and director of the Prevention Research Center at the Morehouse School of Medicine. She presented "Advancing Community-Campus Partnerships Towards Health Equity: A Reflection on Processes and Outcomes that Matter." The morning also featured a panel discussion by community engagement practitioners and an interactive poster session of projects that support community engagement.

"Collaboration is at the heart of community engagement; however, it is not an easy proposition," Dr. Arrieta explained. "There is both science and art in the practice of collaboration."

To address this challenge, the forum's afternoon session featured Dr. Dale Ainsworth, a faculty member in health science at California State University, Sacramento. He presented "Big Problems - Big Solutions: Inter-organizational Networks and Wicked Problems." Following his presentation, forum attendees worked in small groups to evaluate key elements of successful collaborations.

View more photos from the forum on Flickr.

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