By Jenn Watt
Published March 21 2017
One thing they don’t tell high school students as they head into university is that many academic courses are designed to teach you to be an academic. University programs for the most part are there to cultivate critical thinking and teach proper research technique and paper-writing skills.
But many students yearn to do research that can be applied directly to society. They want to make a difference – isn’t that what school is all about? – but find writing academic papers doesn’t always make the connection to the community they were looking for.
Fortunately not all students have this experience and some universities offer opportunities for young researchers to get their hands dirty working for groups that need them.
One program that has been making these connections locally for years is U-Links Centre for Community Based Research which partners students and professors with community groups in Haliburton County. Students get experience putting their theoretical skills to practice and community groups get expensive research done for free. (Though hosts may donate part of the costs if in a position to do so.)
Every year these projects happen right here in Haliburton County with important local research being conducted with oversight from Trent University. Both bachelor’s and master’s students participate.
On Saturday 15 groups of students and representatives from their host organizations will be displaying their research at Fleming College in Haliburton.
Their research has practical implications for much of the public. Work has been done on calming traffic using art finding solutions to garlic pests creating new ways to use softwood donations to benefit the Heat Bank and improving the local farmers’ market among other things.
During the Celebration of Research (1 to 4 p.m.) you can wander around the displays in the Great Hall and chat with the students. If you represent a local organization looking for help with a project the afternoon is an introduction to U-Links and a chance to meet staff from the organization.
The work being done by these organizations students faculty and staff actually has an impact on this county. If you’re interested in where we’re headed next as a community the research day is a good place to find out.