by John Marris, Community Co-lead, Student Pathways for Community Impacts Working Group
The Trent Community Research Centre (TCRC) is a community research broker based in Peterborough. We work as a connector between the Peterborough community and Trent University, developing projects that meet the needs of the local community and matching these projects with undergraduate and graduate students. We have been part of CFICE since its inception.
Our projects typically follow the academic cycle and about 80% are matched to 4th year undergraduates. The TCRC is very proud of its commitment to giving undergraduate students real-world research experiences. Though we are not unique in this undergraduate focus, many community-based research (CBR) organisations and CBR-focused faculty choose to work with more experienced graduate students.
The first sixty days of this academic year has been a time of furious work for us as two staff and one graduate teaching assistant match teams and individual students, with approximately 40 research projects. We engage in a huge diversity of community-driven research, from doing a history of the local county jail to understanding storm water run-off from parking lots. Among this year’s highlight projects are, a review of volunteer experiences at a local homeless shelter, an evaluation of a project that supported local street level sex workers, and the creation of a catalogue for a walking tour of modernist art on the Trent University campus.
Though most of our work is with undergraduates, we support a number of graduate thesis and course work projects and we also provide one PhD student a year with an alternative graduate teaching assistant placement where the they get to mentor and manage four to five CBR projects. We also recruit graduate students as volunteers to bring their specialist skills to bear on a project. With the support of CFICE and Dr. Stephen Hill, this year we have also implemented a post-doctoral fellowship in CBR, which adds significantly to our capacity and provides a recent PhD graduate, Dr. Dave Tough, with training and research opportunities in community based research.