Attention: Faculty, Academic Staff, and Students Interested In Community-Engaged Research/Creative Activity and Community-Engaged Teaching/Learning

Friday, March 23, 2018 
Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center
8:00 a.m. check-in, light breakfast, and networking
8:30 - 10:00 a.m. workshop


Any successful response to a complex problem will acknowledge the different ways in which stakeholder communities know about the challenge. If such a response is to be inclusive and just, it must integrate these different ways of knowing so that stakeholders recognize how it aligns with their core beliefs and values. University faculty and staff involved in creating community-university partnerships for community-engaged research, teaching, or service frequently find themselves in the challenging position of attempting to foster dialogue and coordinated action across partners’ different ways of knowing, with little guidance on the techniques and tools for bridging different ways of knowing.

This panel will address the challenge of knowledge integration, focusing on how specific tools and approaches (e.g., structured dialogue, participatory modeling, etc.) can be used to coordinate different ways of knowing. Focusing on concrete problems involving different ways of knowing, panelists from the Community Sustainability, Philosophy, and Family Medicine departments and their community partners will discuss specific ways of integrating knowledge to support sustainable responses. Participants will come away from the session with an understanding of practical tools for integrating knowledge across different ways of knowing.


Integrating Community and Academic Ways of Knowing to Understand Detroit Food Systems


Laura Schmitt Olabisi, Associate Professor, Department of Community Sustainability
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Renee Wallace, Executive Director, FoodPLUS Detroit
CEO, Doers Consulting Alliance
Community engaged research requires specific tools for accessing different ways of knowing, but perhaps more importantly, it requires partnerships based on mutual respect, mutual interest, and openness to innovation and learning. In this conversation, Laura Schmitt Olabisi and Renee V. Wallace will discuss these aspects of partnership in the context of community modeling work in Detroit.

Integrating Community and Academic Perspectives to Create a Healthfulness Index for Flint Neighborhoods and Plan Future Research


Rick Sadler, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, Division of Public Health
College of Human Medicine
Ella Greene-Moton, Community/Academic Bridge and 
Community Director, Methodology Core, Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions 
College of Human Medicine
Although it is important to understand how neighborhood affects health behaviors and outcomes, GIS variables aren’t always operationalized with community input. To address this gap, we engaged research and community partners in lending weights to over two dozen variables as part of the creation of a Needs & Assets Assessment for the Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions. Our results provide expert knowledge-derived maps that signify how health-promoting a neighborhood is based on the composite of the weights assigned to each variable. We can then link these values to public health intervention research participants to see the effect of their neighborhood on behavior change.

Moving Towards a Transformative Justice Collective in Lansing

Xhercis Méndez, Assistant Professor, Departments of Philosophy and African American and African Studies
College of Arts and Letters
The presentation will discuss the practical steps towards building a transformative justice collective in Lansing. Key themes I will address include but are not limited to:  the challenges that come with occupying multiple intersecting identities, the tensions between community goals and university objectives, the role university methods can play in producing distrust in community partners, and the need to develop strategies for productive conflict and accountability.  


Michael O’Rourke, Interim Director, MSU Center for Interdisciplinarity
Director, Toolbox Dialogue Initiative
Professor, Department of Philosophy 
College of Arts and Letters 
Professor, AgBioResearch



Laura Schmitt Olabisi is a participatory modeler exploring the sustainability of complex systems with human and environmental components. She work directly with stakeholders, using participatory model-building techniques to foster adaptive learning about the dynamics of coupled human-natural systems, and to integrate stakeholder knowledge with academic knowledge. The models she builds incorporate feedback and nonlinear dynamics, and typically include biophysical, social, and human behavioral components. Her work therefore addresses the complexity, interdisciplinarity, and engagement aspects of sustainability research. She works predominantly around problems related to agriculture, climate change, and food security, but the modeling tools she uses may be applied in a wide range of contexts. Her past and present research has addressed soil erosion, population growth, greenhouse gas emissions, water sustainability, energy use, deforestation, adoption of organic/sustainable agricultural techniques, and human health.
Renee V. Wallace is a business and community leader committed to building models in real time of high-performing community-university partnerships that engage in complex strategic work in urban communities.
Rick Sadler is a medical geographer by training and an assistant professor in the Division of Public Health at Michigan State University in Flint. His work is rooted in community partnerships and aimed at strengthening the understanding between the built environment and health behaviors/outcomes, with the goal of informing land use policy to build healthier cities. His work is particularly focused on regions—like his hometown of Flint—that experience unique challenges arising from a combination of social, political, and economic forces that exacerbate health equity issues.
Ella Greene-Moton has an extensive background in advocacy, policy development and monitoring, as well as community/academic partnership building that spans over the past 45 years in the Flint area. Locally, she serves as the community director of the Methodology Core of the Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions (FCHES), a community education coordinator and “bridge” at the Center for Public Health and Community Genomics - U of M SPH, and the administrator of the Community Ethics Review Board (CERB) in the Community Core of the Healthy Flint Research Coordinating Center (HFRCC). At the national level, Greene-Moton is an elected member of the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) Executive Board, past chair of the Community Based Public Health Caucus of APHA, and past chair of the Community Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) Board of Directors.
Xhercis Méndez is an assistant professor in Philosophy and African American and African Studies. She received her doctorate from the Philosophy, Interpretation and Culture Program at Binghamton University, along with certificates in feminist theory and Latin American and Caribbean area studies. As a scholar-activist her research departs from engaged philosophy that centers on those bodies systematically devalued, marginalized and targeted for demise. Her work brings together women of color and decolonial feminisms, sexuality studies, and Afro-Latinx/diasporic religion and philosophies in order to develop decolonial feminist methodologies, ingredients, and tools for the (re)making of social relations, histories, intimacies, normative value systems, and resistant possibilities.

Sponsored by: Community Evaluation and Research Collaborative, MSU Center for Interdisciplinarity, Department of Community Sustainability Graduate Student Organization