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Prefiguring Sustainability through Participatory Action Research Experiences for Undergraduates: Reflections and Recommendations for Student Development

1
Department of Psychology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA
2
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
3
STEM Center, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3332; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093332
Received: 26 July 2018 / Revised: 11 September 2018 / Accepted: 15 September 2018 / Published: 18 September 2018
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Abstract

PAR-based UREs are undergraduate research experiences (UREs)—built into university-community partnerships—that apply principles of participatory action research (PAR) towards addressing community-defined challenges. In this paper, we advance PAR-based UREs as an action-oriented framework through which higher education institutions can simultaneously enact and advance the United Nations sustainable development agenda, while cultivating student development. We draw upon interdisciplinary scholarship on sustainable development and PAR, as well as empirical findings from a pilot program, to accomplish dual goals. First, through the lens of six Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) clusters, we explore the synergies between undergraduate PAR engagement and sustainable development, explaining how PAR-based UREs can prefigure and facilitate SDG achievement by promoting cross-sector collaboration and supporting diverse stakeholder engagement through community-driven research and action. Second, within each SDG cluster, we offer complementary reflections and recommendations around the design and implementation of PAR-based UREs towards advancing students’ skills and abilities as: (1) Community Collaborators (and Learners); (2) Community-Engaged Researchers; (3) (Interdisciplinary) Scholars; (4) Agents of Change; (5) (Sustainable) Co-Innovators; and (6) Institutional Representatives. Finally, we discuss the critical role of higher education institutions in minimizing structural barriers to PAR-based URE implementation, given their prefigurative and practical potential for both SDG achievement and student development. View Full-Text
Keywords: community partnership; higher education; participatory action research; prefigurative politics; sustainability; undergraduate community partnership; higher education; participatory action research; prefigurative politics; sustainability; undergraduate
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Trott, C.D.; Weinberg, A.E.; Sample McMeeking, L.B. Prefiguring Sustainability through Participatory Action Research Experiences for Undergraduates: Reflections and Recommendations for Student Development. Sustainability 2018, 10, 3332.

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