Community-Based Work and the Importance of Being Integrative – The Ganey Award and Video

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. 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.

8 thoughts on “Community-Based Work and the Importance of Being Integrative – The Ganey Award and Video

  1. Daniel —
    Wow. ummm… wow. What a rush to see this video, to see some familiar faces, and to remember this strength of Notre Dame. What a fantastic testimony to the power of this mode of dealing with community-based research, from your example of community consultation, to the student involvement, to the collaborative agenda-setting, to the use of non-traditional forms of publishing (like sharing results with us here).

    The whole video was really moving, but I was especially struck by the comments of the veteran who discussed the ways that electronic publishing helped him to feel that his project was reaching a public. It’s certainly one of the satisfactions that I feel from publishing here, the evidence that someone is at least glancing at the pages, when traditional publishing can often seem to echo off into the void. I had never really considered, however, how this satisfaction might be shared with our research partners, informants, and collaborators.

    But overall, I’m just so impressed and moved. I’m going to be sharing the video around with colleagues who are interested in community-based research. It’s a ringing testimony to what is possible and the positive effects it can have on everyone involved — students, community members, and us, the academic partners. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  2. It’s really impressive work. You should be very proud of it, Daniel. As Greg said, it’s a really moving video that attests to the impact that we as academics can really have in our local communities (and beyond as the veterans group organizer indicated) when we engage in this kind of work. The level of engagement and energy in your collaborators, the students, and the community really shines through and motivates me to consider doing something comparable. Thanks for posting it!


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