There is power in defining research questions and in controlling the production of knowledge. When research is done in communities of color and low-wealth communities, a power imbalance often exists between researchers and community-based organizations.
CURA's community-based research model is aimed at reordering that power relationship.
Community-based research values community knowledge and people’s lived experiences. It reflects meaningful collaboration between academics, advocates, service providers, and impacted communities. It leads to more robust and holistic data, more effective policy solutions, and stronger community action. When we use a community-based research model, community members are not the subjects of research—they are the co-producers of knowledge.
CURA works with community partners to conduct large-scale, comprehensive community-based research projects. Key elements of our model include:
- Deep partnership and open process: Research ideas come from deep relationships with community partners. We work together for as long as needed to shape a project, including its key questions and goals.
- Shared expertise: Community members and CURA researchers provide important expertise and unique perspectives.
- Racial equity framework: Projects align with CURA’s racial equity framework. They are contextualized, community-centered, and reparative.
- Actionable: The purpose of research is to build community power, further campaigns or build narratives, and change policies.
Recent large-scale CURA Research projects
The Illusion of Choice: Evictions and Profit in North Minneapolis
In May of 2019, the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) held a multimedia release event for “The Illusion of Choice: Evictions and Profit in North Minneapolis” research project that included a presentation, a video telling the stories of tenants and landlords in North Minneapolis, an art installation with photos that explore the phases of eviction, and an illustrative simulation developed with the Juxta Art Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) team called the “Social Service Runaround.” Evictions are a social crisis in North Minneapolis caused by decades of housing discrimination, urban disinvestment, and unfair lending practices. This research project went beyond the data to tell the story of the evictions crisis through qualitative research interviews with both North Minneapolis landlords and tenants.
The Diversity of Gentrification: Multiple Forms of Gentrification in Minneapolis and St. Paul
In January of 2019, the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) released its study of gentrification in Minneapolis and St. Paul between 2000 and 2015. “The Diversity of Gentrification: Multiple Forms of Gentrification in Minneapolis and St. Paul” used a mixed methods approach that combined a statistical analysis of neighborhood-level data with an in-depth qualitative analysis of interviews with public officials, community leaders, and neighborhood residents. The study found significant evidence of gentrification in the two cities.