In April I had the honor of receiving the Rodney F. Ganey, Ph.D., Faculty Community-Based Research Award. Given by the Center for Social Concerns at the University of Notre Dame, the Ganey Award goes to a Notre Dame faculty who has done collaborative work in the local community. For those interested in the details of that work, here is the press release – Daniel Lende Wins 2009 Ganey Award.
Neuroanthropology.net has played a central role in the community-based research I have done with my students. These include posts on using humor in recovery from breast cancer, a support group for women with HIV/AIDS, research to help redesign a local hospital waiting room, and the stories that US war veterans wanted to share about their everyday battles with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Two peer-reviewed articles have come out of the community-based research with my students: Embodiment and Breast Cancer among African American Women, and Community Approaches to Preventing Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission: Perspectives from Rural Lesotho. A great community guide, Underneath It All: Humor in Breast Cancer, was put together by the students, community members and myself, and is now used in a local hospital.
One of the best things about the award was that the Center for Social Concerns made this wonderful video with my community partners and my students. Here’s the YouTube link, but I also present it below as it captures why I do this sort of work.
I also want to share a written version of what I said at the CSC award dinner. No, no, not all the thank yous (there were plenty and all richly deserved), but a reflection on my own approach to my work.
I want to close by speaking to why the work I have done has meshed so well with the Center for Social Concerns.
At its core my work is integrative. Notre Dame had encouraged that integrative spirit. These five factors make that spirit a reality.
First is listening, listening to the person across the table. That is the start to doing community-based work and the start to understanding other ideas.
Second is the synthesis of intellectual and social problems. These are human problems, where compassion and involvement can matter as much as intellectual analysis or abstract policy.
Third is a push to make our research international and interdisciplinary, and not just local and field specific. Integration only happens by crossing boundaries.
Fourth is the combination of traditional publishing with other forms of scholarship, such as a community guidebook and electronic publishing. These forms of scholarship can reach many, many more people than a typical peer-reviewed article.
Fifth, being community-oriented, with an insistence that what we do is relevant to more than just the university. Some of the most challenging questions and even our best answers and outcomes can come from those people across the table, the people with whom we are lucky enough to work.
These five factors – listening to others, the synthesis of intellectual and social problems, making our work interdisciplinary, combining traditional publishing with other forms of scholarship, and having a community orientation – all matter. Together they make a tremendous difference in our lives as academics, students, and community partners.