What is the KPIRG Community Action Research Project Program?
The KPIRG Community Action Research Project Program serves to assist students and community groups wishing to conduct research related to social, economic, and environmental justice.
This program will not only fund research but will also provide mentoring before, during, and after, offering support in areas such as writing research proposals, acquiring research skills, conducting ethical research, as well as disseminating research results to the community.
The term, “research”, can often be intimidating and alienating to many of us. For many, research may feel out of reach even though we have many of its tools at our disposal. Its association with traditional academia can often act as a repellent, effectively allowing for research to remain in the hands of elite power.
Most of us, however, conduct research in our daily lives. In fact, when we consciously observe and reflect on the world around us, or when we reach out to our family members, friends, peers, co-workers, neighbours, and even strangers to find out about their/our experiences and perspectives, concerns or hopes, we are conducting social investigation, a form of research!
At its core, research is both the pursuit and production of knowledge about the world around us. It is a way of systematically gathering, analyzing, and communicating information to the public and can also be used as a tool for positive social, economic, political, and environmental transformation. Such progressive research can enable us to understand the root causes of, and contexts for, social, economic, and environmental problems. In this way, research can be a conscientizing, emancipatory, and transformative force.
What is CARPP?
KPIRG’s Community Action Research Project Program (CARPP) is a core program of KPIRG that serves to assist students and community groups wishing to conduct research concerned with social, economic, and/or environmental justice. As the bridge between KPU education and community practice, CARPP constitutes a seminal pillar of KPIRG.
CARPP was founded in 2014 as a countervailing force against the oppressive tendencies exhibited by post-secondary institutions. Universities can serve to uphold systems of oppression, such as the class system (capitalism), patriarchy, and structural racism.
Situated in our communities, these educational institutions often extract data and resources from our communities, without meaningful community consultation or engagement, and leave behind little in the way of substantial, net benefits. Such extractive research objectifies community organizing and activism and co-opts popular, grassroots knowledge and movements in ways that reinforce the power inequity between researcher and the groups that they represent (academic, corporate, state), on the one hand, and the community, on the other.
By focusing our resources on groups and individuals in need of theory, information, and the energy to supply them, CARPP encourages students to consciously wield their institutional advantage and convert it into a useful tool for social and political action. CARPP connects KPU students with local, progressive, non-profit community organizations that need research but lack the financial and informational resources. By taking part in CARPP, KPU students can integrate more community-directed, transformative research into their education while engaging in crucial community organizing.
KPIRG’s CARPP is one of similar programs found at other PIRGs across Canada, namely OPIRG-Ottawa’s Community Research Project (CRP), QPIRG’s Community-University Research Exchange (CURE), and, formerly, SFPIRG’s Action Research Exchange (ARX). As with grassroots, community organizing, we choose research tools to fit the specific issue being explored and the research needs of communities with whom we are working. Methodologies include, but are not limited to, participatory action research.
KPIRG’s Research (CARPP) Coordinator is tasked with assisting student researchers in conducting original research on community-based issues. Students and community members participating in our CARPP program receive funding, training, mentorship, and hands-on research experience; this means support in
- designing and writing research proposals
- exploring appropriate methodologies
- acquiring ethical research skills
- publishing findings
- disseminating research results to the community
Our CARPP Mandate
- channel the academic resources and privilege of the university setting towards marginalized community organizations working towards social change, while taking direction from those community organizations and respecting their autonomy over their research needs
- facilitate productive, mutually transformative collaboration and solidarity between students and community organizers in a way that redefines the boundary between the university and the communities in which it is situated, and thereby promoting socially relevant and useful community-based research and political action.
- educate students about PAR and community organizing and broaden students’ academic horizons by providing them with the resources to perform relevant, action-oriented academic work.
- CARPP matches KPU students with community group proposals submitted to KPIRG via the online CARPP form; or
- CARPP matches community groups with KPU student research proposals, depending on the research needs and suitability of the CARPP proposal to the community; or
- CARPP funds community group research projects that either have no need of a student researcher or have already identified their student researcher
- CARPP, through the CARPP Coordinator, conducts its own, in-house, independent research
KPIRG’s CARPP program can be used for course credit in the classroom or as an independent project on the part of the student
All CARPP projects must centre around one or more issues of social, economic, and environmental justice.
The following is an unexhaustive and non-prescriptive sampling of potential CARPP themes, which we understand to be both structural and systemic in origin:
- Labour struggles, workers’ rights, worker precarity, migrant workers
- Women’s Liberation, male violence against women, exploitation and oppression of women
- Education, student movements
- Disability justice, accessibility, inclusion
- Housing, homelessness, gentrification & displacement
- Poverty, socioeconomic inequity, economic justice
- Public transportation, sustainable and inclusive urban planning
- Climate justice, extractive resource resistance and alternatives, environment, sustainability
- Sustainable food systems, food sovereignty and food security
- Indigenous sovereignty, struggles, and resistance; decolonization
- Policing of working-class, poor, and people of colour
- Anti-war; militarization; anti-imperialism
- Public health, mental health, health justice
- Immigration, migration, xenophobia
- Anti-racism, race & ethnicity
- LGBTQ2+ issues, Queer Liberation
- People’s Liberation Movements, popular struggles
- Seniors’ issues
- Child & Youth issues
- Progressive Arts
- Critical media analysis and research
- Community development
Other areas of research are also welcome
Example CARPP Formats
- Formal research: literature review, theoretical analysis, historical inquiry, interviews, focus groups, direct systematic observation, personal participation, etc.
- Organizational development: grant research and proposal, organizational and/or institutional analysis, program evaluation, business/communication planning, workshop development, etc.
- Creative: performance, film, other media presentation, pamphlet, blog, zine, poster, info-graphic, etc.
- Survey: survey (ie. questionnaire) design, data compilation and analysis, inventory, etc.
- Computer-related: website design, database development, etc.
Project and Applicant Eligibility Requirements
KPIRG, together with the Research (CARPP) Coordinator, determines the relevance, feasibility, and suitability of a CARPP proposal. CARPP proposals must fall within the mandate of KPIRG, which is reflected in the mandate of the CARP program.
Interested students select a project appropriate to their area of study, skill level, and program requirements, if applicable, and complete a CARPP Student Researcher Application. Students can apply to undertake a project on an ongoing basis. CARPP will provide support and referral services for students and community groups throughout this process, liaising between students and community groups, ensuring that each party is satisfied with the conditions and terms of the research and providing any additional support that may be needed.
- Be a student of Kwantlen Polytechnic University and a fee-paying member of KPIRG during the semester in which the CARPP application is submitted.
- Be willing to work in collaboration with, and take direction from, one or more community groups
- If the project is for course credit, complete the project during the semester in which it was approved and initiated. If the project is an independent one, complete the project within 32 weeks from the time of approval.
- Commit a minimum of 2-8 hrs per week
- There is no financial cost to participate in the CARPP program for the student.
For Community Organizations:
- Be based in and operating out of the Lower Mainland
- Be a non-profit organization*
- The organization must not be a political party or an organization primarily funded by a political party
- The organization must not be a religious organization or group primarily funded by a religious organization
- Have a mandate and/or mission oriented towards social, economic, and/or environmental justice
- Clearly demonstrate inclusivity, diversity, accessibility, and long-term, progressive vision
- Not contravene or diverge significantly from KPIRG’s mandate, values, principles, policies, constitution, and bylaws
- Not have an annual budget exceeding $300,000.00. If the organization’s budget exceeds $300,000, KPIRG will request additional financial information from the organization and will require that the organization demonstrate need.
- There is no financial cost to participate in the CARPP program for the community organization.
(*Note: the organization does not need to be formally incorporated as a non-profit, but cannot be a for-profit venture.)
Here’s the application form for organizations to propose a project!
Here’s the application for students and community members who’d like to volunteer for a project. Let us know your areas of interest and get involved! KPIRG is also working with (and actively seeking more!) instructors who may be willing to supervise your project for course credit or as a directed-study opportunity.
If the research proposal submitted by a KPU student or community member is formally approved by the KPIRG Board, the project proposal is then
- posted on the KPIRG website and in KPIRG social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- included in monthly KPIRG newsletters
- promoted through KPU-wide communication networks (ie., Eagle-Eye, myKwantlen, SLD, etc.)
- promoted via KPIRG student outreach on all KPU campuses at the beginning of the Fall (i.e. September) and Spring (i.e. January) semesters
- promoted via an extensive and targeted classroom speaking campaign
- shared with KPU faculty members, who will, in turn, share the proposal with their students