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Community-Driven Research

When stakeholders are included in the process of developing research questions, projects benefit in several ways, including improved trust in research results and improved community engagement (Pandya, 2014, Ch. 4, Future Earth). Such community-driven research (CDR) strategies have been employed in medical research for a number of years, and the CSDCO advocates for increasing their use in the geosciences.  

Coring and drilling projects are usually focused on a location or region, and often on its history, providing ample points of intersection to entrain stakeholders in the area as a part of project Broader Impacts. Researchers must endeavor to meet early and often, in person if possible, and to genuinely try to learn what questions local people (indigenous communities, lake associations, resource managers, park rangers, etc.) have about the site that might be included in the planning and budget for the project.  

Such dialogues can help demonstrate that local communities and governments are more than just the issuing the permits, or in cases of communities with underrepresented minority groups, more than just a diversity box to be checked.  

Our first experience with CDR came from the NSF-funded manoomin project, starting in 2009, where community leaders and resource managers of the Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe determined the research questions and how the education and research would be carried out, which led to a remarkably successful and ongoing collaboration with UMN (LacCore and The National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics) and to numerous other projects with other Tribal organizations.