Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is conducted as an equal partnership between academically-trained “experts” and members of a community. CBPR is the development of knowledge for action, change and advocacy. Community-based participatory research is designed to produce tangible results of benefit to communities.

Alaska Community Action on Toxics forms research partnerships with villages concerned about military and industrial contamination and effects on environmental health. For example, we are working with the Yupik people of St. Lawrence Island on a traditional foods study to determine levels of PCBs and other contaminants in subsistence foods such as fish and marine mammals.

Field Sampling Institute

How does community-based participatory research differ from other research?

A defining quality of CBRP is that the community participates in all aspects of the research process. The results of the research belong to the community not the researchers, and the community determines how these results are used. This is quite unlike the research model in which researchers create knowledge solely for the purpose of advancing a field of study. CBPR integrates research, reflection and action.

Our approach to community-based research partnerships includes the following principles:

  • Recognize community as a unit of identity.
  • Build on strengths and resources within the community.
  • Facilitate collaborative partnerships in all phases of the research.
  • Integrate knowledge and action for mutual benefit of all partners.
  • Promote a co-learning and empowering process that attends to social inequalities.
  • Address health from both positive and ecological perspectives.
  • Disseminate findings and knowledge gained to all partners, only with permission of the communities involved in the research.

Read about our community-based participatory research on St. Lawrence Island with the University of Alaska, Anchorage:

UAA scientists, ACAT and community researchers work together