At CAT Lab and many other participatory research groups, we regularly argue that communities who are often left out of academia bring crucial knowledge and values to science and engineering. But what does that actually look like?

Here at CAT Lab, we work directly with the public to answer questions about digital life, conducting research that makes a difference in people’s lives, advances scientific knowledge, and contributes to policy discussions. As a university-based lab, we also train the next generation of diverse scholars to collaborate with the public on those discoveries.

One part of that training involves hosting “Big Tent” 🎪 conversations with our circle of students and collaborators about the theory and practice of publicly-engaged research.  We hope these guided conversations will be helpful to your community too.

Last semester, we discussed how certain groups have historically been excluded by science through ideas about what counts as a good question. This semester, we are discussing the social science of Community Cultural Wealth— identifying the unique contributions that marginalized communities could bring to science if only we were open to it.


Facilitation Guide

  1. What is community cultural wealth? (15 minutes)
    1. Discuss the readings on research impact and community cultural wealth
    2. Before these readings, what did you think of as “traditional” cultural capital in academia?
  1. Discussion: Capital possessed by communities we already collaborate with (20 minutes)
    1. What communities do you come from, have worked with, or want to work with
    2. What forms of cultural capital have we encountered in those collaborations? 
    3. How did it inform/contribute to/enhance the study?
  1. Brainstorming: New research ideas unlocked by the concept of community cultural wealth (15 minutes)
    1. As Levine and Matias point out, conversations with communities can be a rich source for research ideas. How can the concept of community cultural wealth inform how we approach those conversations?