By Hayes Pearce ’22
Research isn’t linear, and COVID-19 has certainly reminded us of that. While many of our lives have been uprooted by pandemic, Ignite and the Global Research Institute are continuing their investigations. For Ignite, we are looking at how social and spatial determinants of health, international aid distribution, and community capacity influence communities, regions, and countries.
When I joined SOMOS—now a branch of Ignite— I found it was a group that performs community-based research involving community partners in the Dominican Republic. I learned that good intentions are never enough when it comes to global research and partnerships. Many projects or mission-led trips that lack collaboration or are extractivist in nature are capable of doing immense harm to communities through their uninformed intervention. To ensure that we cause development over disruption, SOMOS emphasizes the involvement of community partners and the coordination of community-based research.
Currently, SOMOS is investigating the role of waste management, cultural attitudes, and community health in Paraíso, Dominican Republic. The goal is to ultimately show the necessity of culturally competent environmental efforts in the region with community health as their impetus.
This research group allows us to reflect upon the nature of community partnerships and work collaboratively to investigate waste management and health outcomes in the community. Ignite as a whole emphasizes sustainability and holistic community collaboration throughout all steps of the research process. Be it with community calls, texts through WhatsApp, email, or Zoom, Ignite’s research groups are keeping up with communities. As for SOMOS, we recently recruited new members and are excited to introduce them to our research and to our community partners. I talked to Dr. Dolan, the head of Ignite, and asked about the future of Ignite due to COVID-19. She told me about the myriad of Zoom calls and online collaborations that continue, even during pandemic. She has worked tirelessly to keep all research efforts engaged, even though we aren’t able to meet up in person. SOMOS continues to meet over Zoom, and we are excited for our new members and for the future of our community partnerships.
I am personally grateful to be a member of SOMOS and thus Ignite because I’ve learned about the social and spatial determinants of health, ethical global research, power dynamics and cultural competencies, and community partnerships. I’m beyond thankful to be a part of a group of incredible researchers and friends who are all dedicated to community partnerships. I appreciate the multidisciplinary perspectives of each member and have learned so much from everyone in this collaborative research process.
If you have questions about SOMOS or Ignite, reach out to Ignite Director, Dr. Dolan, myself, other Ignite projects, or the Global Research Institute!