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Beyond campus

Community Scholars program provides opportunity to connect with communities

By Cathy Newhook

Spending time face-to-face with the people in the small towns and unique places that make Newfoundland and Labrador what it is.

That’s exactly what the new Community Scholars program is providing Memorial faculty members opportunities to do.

The program is open to full-time faculty and post-doctoral fellows and will provide up to $10,000 to approximately 10 scholars, annually.

The purpose is to allow for scholars to venture beyond Memorial’s campuses and to immerse themselves in the province’s communities in order to build stronger connections between them and the university.

Researchers can spend 8-10 weeks in a community of their choice, and engage with residents in a range of public engagement activities.

‘Mutual benefit’

“This program is designed to build on Memorial’s commitment to communities,” said President Vianne Timmons. “We take our special obligation to the people of the province seriously, and while there is lots of research happening at the university that we know benefits communities, we want to make sure our faculty have an opportunity to really connect with communities throughout the province and develop strong relationships that can really only be built by taking time and being immersed in a place.”

“Our new strategic plan is called Transforming Our Horizons, and that’s what this program is intended to do,” explained Lisa Browne, vice-president (advancement and external relations). “It’s an opportunity for Memorial scholars to expand their horizons and get out into communities. It’s also an opportunity for communities to tap into expertise at Memorial and work towards projects of mutual benefit.”

A landscape of grass and a pond to the right and a road to the left. It is sunny with a clear blue sky.

Successful applicants will be expected to submit a plan for how they intend to engage with their host community, and how they anticipate the experience will contribute to their research, teaching, and/or engagement.

The program is not intended for direct research work specifically; however, any applicant who plans on using their time to contribute to an existing research project must submit their ethics approvals at the time of application.

The online application portal is open as of June 13, and will remain open year-round. Applications will be reviewed monthly until all funds are awarded.

Harris Centre-driven

In keeping with Memorial’s long history of community and regional engagement, the Harris Centre will help broker the connections.

Community Scholars will complement other recent initiatives such as the Community Hubs Initiative which will see organizations throughout the province partnering with Memorial on community spaces for public engagement, learning and collaboration.

“Connecting communities with Memorial and vice versa is a big part of what we do at the Harris Centre,” said Dr. Rob Greenwood, associate vice-president, public engagement and external relations, and director, Harris Centre. “This new program is a great way for us to be able to do even more of that. We’re looking forward to seeing all the great opportunities and connections that will come from this level of direct engagement with communities.”

In addition to accepting applications from scholars, communities or community groups who are interested in hosting a scholar are encouraged to get in touch and share any ideas for projects or activities.

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