Tips for Academics Working with Communities

Back to Key Questions for Researchers & Communities

Author: Sharon Irish, University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne, for Productive Margins, 2014

1.        Accept and use your privilege

2.        Ask how you can help and then do it

3.        Your assistance may not look academic

4.        Theory may be off-putting

5.        Creatively direct funds to community activists

6.        You will make mistakes: be humble

7.        The academy will not praise your engaged scholarship

8.        Be transparent about your goals, your funding, your findings

9.        Remember: activists raise families and work paid jobs too

10.    Co-present with your activist partner

11.    Provide support for child care, travel, food, lost wages

12.    Be prepared to act quickly

13.    Find ways to make the bureaucracy work for you

14.    Following the money may undermine your goals

15.    When grant funding ends, the work does not

16.    Document and archive

17.    Remember that academic life is marginal to many people

18.    Work across generations

19.    Thank your friends and family

20.    Renew: breathe, laugh, sleep, exercise