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Collaborative Research to Address Campus Food Insecurity
(College of Saint BenedictSaint Johns University)
Megan Sheehan (College of St BenedictSt John's University)
Paper short abstract:
In this paper, we detail a mixed methods approach to address campus food insecurity at a U.S.-based college. While collaboration brings practical challenges, we argue that applied collaborative research endeavors afford a wide-angle lens through which we might better address entrenched problems.
Paper long abstract:
In this paper, we detail a mixed methods collaboration to address campus food insecurity at a U.S.-based college. Our team consists of an anthropologist, a nutritionist, and a group of student researchers from varied disciplines. This applied project responds to institutional interest in developing initiatives to help students who are at high risk of food insecurity. Emerging survey data from universities throughout the U.S. suggests that nearly one third of students experience some degree of food insecurity, and data collected on our campus is in line with national statistics. For this project, data collection spanned three years and included three rounds of a structured questionnaire (n=approximately 500 students each semester) as well as in-depth, semi-structured interviews (n=96). Statistically-significant trends from the quantitative data were considered in the construction of the interview guide. In interviews, we asked students to reflect upon the ways in which they access food, their understandings of meal options, and their strategies to cope with food insecurity. Here, we argue for the transformative possibilities of joint methodological and pedagogical collaborations. Moreover, engaging in an applied research paradigm enables a further educational component, as key stakeholders were invited to see the ways that disciplinary approaches could generate complementary data, thus facilitating more informed decisions when designing solutions. While working across many levels of collaborative relationships brings practical challenges, we argue that collaborative research endeavors afford a wider-angle lens through which we might better address the entrenched problems facing the communities in which we work.
Collaborative Futures in Practice: Methods and pedagogies for imagining and doing anthropology together [PechaKucha]