GPRC Student Works with City on Community-Based Research
Wednesday, November 28th, 2018
After a lifetime of community involvement, second-year GPRC student Truelee Love thought she knew Grande Prairie’s not-for-profit sector inside and out. The political science major quickly realized she was wrong, however, thanks to a unique opportunity to conduct research with the City of Grande Prairie last summer.
With the guidance of GPRC instructor Dawn Moffat McMaster, who led the project, Love assisted with the development an asset map, a snapshot of the city’s not-for-profit and volunteer sector. The map identified a myriad of not-for-profit community groups to determine where service gaps and overlaps existed, or where there may have been opportunities for groups to collaborate on overcoming common social challenges.
The experience opened her eyes to a side of the city she had never seen.
“It was really interesting to know how many organizations there were in Grande Prairie that I had no idea existed,” said Love, who worked on data gathering and analysis for the project. “We have so many amazing groups and people here working on projects that could be incredible if done together, or if resources are shared. Having this information should be able to help organizations and the people they serve find one another more easily.”
The Community Asset Map – Grande Prairie project was funded by the City’s Community Social Development department. While the project’s findings will be presented to community organizations in the new year, it has already contributed to planning within the department.
By providing a baseline measure of community involvement, local organizations and institutions can better plan for the future, including potential collaborations.
“This arrangement allows us to benefit from local expertise while allowing students like Truelee to contribute to community knowledge and gain work experience,” said Angela Sutherland, manager of Community Social Development at the City of Grande Prairie. “Our plan is to conduct this research again in 2021/22 as part of the next department planning cycle, and the involvement of GPRC students and researchers is definitely a possibility at that point.”
These kinds of research positions provide not only a catalyst for innovative community involvement but also an opportunity for students to experience firsthand the challenges of academic research, said Moffat McMaster. “As GPRC moves toward degree-granting status, it’s important to be able to offer students these kinds of opportunities,” she said. “They give students a chance to see whether this kind of work is of interest while also gaining practical experience to put on resumes and applications.”
For Love, now completing her Bachelor of Arts in political science at Dalhousie University, the project made her seriously consider a future in academia. “I wouldn’t be opposed to getting my PhD and contributing to the larger academic community in some way,” she said. “I don’t know exactly how yet, but it’s definitely something that this project has put on my horizon.”