Queen’s University PhD-Community Initiative celebrates successful community involvement

Representatives from Queen’s University speak to the crowd at City Hall during the PhD-Community Initiative Capstone Reception. Photo via the City of Kingston.

Participants from the Queen’s University PhD-Community Initiative (PhD-CI) program presented their research findings and celebrated another successful year of community engagement at Kingston City Hall on Thursday, May 2, 2024.

Since 2016, the annual PhD-CI program has connected teams of PhD students with local organizations to lead a project that addresses a challenge they are facing. According to a release from the City of Kingston, these partnerships aim to bridge the gap between academic research and the local community by building capacity within the organizations and developing tangible solutions to the issues they face. 

For the 2023-2024 cohort, six teams of interdisciplinary researchers worked with the City of Kingston, Kingston, Frontenac Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health, the Kingston Economic Development Corporation, the Ban Righ Centre, and Student Academic Success Services.

The City of Kingston “had the privilege of working with two of these teams, gaining insightful proposals in the areas of strategic planning and service delivery,” according to the release. 

The first group built off a successful PhD-CI project from 2022 to 2023 by developing a process to localize the UN Sustainable Development Goals within Kingston, the City stated. Specifically, team members explored the implementation of a community-wide “17 Rooms” exercise, which reportedly allows individuals from different backgrounds to come together to spur collaborative efforts in identifying practical priorities and actions that could be taken to move forward with relevant, sustainable and localized goals.

According to the release, the second project contributed to the City’s ongoing work with local food providers by developing a Community Food System Report Card. Group members conducted research on Kingston’s food ecosystem, evaluated policies and processes, reviewed challenges and opportunities, and ultimately, provided a greater understanding of key issues to inform a community food strategy and monitor progress toward food sovereignty, the City noted.

“We are deeply appreciative of the time and dedication that these students have put in to helping our community. This program not only gives participants the chance to apply their skills in broader contexts, but it also brings new perspectives to how we, and other community partners, approach our work,” said Mayor Bryan Paterson.

“The opportunity to participate in the PhD-CI program has been invaluable for the City of Kingston. We’re looking forward to using the knowledge shared to further confront the evolving needs of our community.”

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