Friday, June 22, 2018

Walking on Eggshells with Jose Miguel Hernandez Hurtado

Our research shows that community-based organizations don’t feel like they can be honest with partners when they see institutional racism. They feel like they are “walking on eggshells,” because addressing inequity might harm their organization or community.

In this video, Jose Miguel Hernandez, an artist and one of our community researchers, interprets one of the results of our research using body expressions.

Capturing Codes

Last summer we began our research coding process. Between picnic retreats and phone meetings, we discussed the patterns that emerged from the surveys. Based on the patterns found, we developed the four categories that we named Power and Privilege, Trust and Transparency, Realities and Relevance, and Commitment and Collaboration. Sister Sharon Horace, Jose Miguel Hernandez and Fanny Villarreal joined us in person on separate occasions to work on the codes, while other participated over the phone. Thank you all!

 Brigid, Karen and Marilu discuss the codes and share the information with the ICBOs over emails.

 Another time one of the community researchers, Fanny Villarreal, joined us in person to a picnic retreat.

 Bobby Wilson discusses with Karen the Robin Hood approach during the American Community Gardening Association's conference.

 Our regular meeting schedule with all the ICBOs.

 Karen and her son working in tandem.

 Marilu (not in the picture) in the company of Sunny.

 The four categories that emerged.

 Working it through...

 Coding process...

 Brigid Lucey diligently capturing codes.

 Our setting for our coding picnic retreats.

Our office for that day...

Working late into the night... during a power outage...

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Our video was recognized!

Thanks to everyone who voted for our video during the STEM for All video showcase May 14-21. Our video was among the top ten and received the Public Choice recognition!

We engaged in interesting public discussions which you can read at:

During the public discussion we had the opportunity to share with people around the world the amazing experience of engaging in community-based participatory research. We emphasized that this is a collective work. We developed trust after working together one year and a half.

We are proud that each one of the communities participating in this research are using the results in their own communities which include urban farming, healing through music, hunting/fishing, birding, etc.

We want to give a special thanks to the WorldBeat Center in San Diego, one of the community organizations leading this research, for producing our video.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Why have Informal Science Institutions not made significant advances in fostering equity, diversity, and inclusion in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)? Three years ago, 15 community leaders representing underserved communities throughout the U.S.A. set out to find some answers so we could better understand why implementing effective STEM programming in underserved communities remains fraught with challenges. They initiated community-based participatory research, using grounded theory approaches, and asked more than 30 community organizations to weigh in. The community researchers, participated in all phases of the research and collectively created a framework that highlights the following themes: 1) trust and transparency, 2) power and privilege, 3) commitment and collaboration, and 4) realities and relevance.

This work evolved from an NSF AISL grant project, Collaborative Research: Examining Contextual Factors that Influence the Implementation of Projects Designed to Improve Cultural Diversity in Informal STEM Programming. We call the group of community researchers “The ICBOs” (Independent Community-based Organizations). The ICBOs have collectively used their strengths and expertise to delve deeper and more meaningfully into community perspectives. They have led this exploration authentically and independently. 

Sometimes research approaches themselves can be part of the problem when trying to understand equity, diversity, and inclusion in STEM. For instance, even informed researchers may tend to use frameworks and literature that originate in the dominant culture to inform their research; ask questions that may not really get at the issues, and may leave underserved communities feeling as if they are being studied. These problems create an even greater sense of mistrust. Knowing this, the ICBOs wanted to lead research that would, instead, represent our communities’ perspectives.

Check out our video -- A Public Choice winner in the 2018 National Science Foundation Video Showcase:, where we discuss the preliminary results of our research.

Special thanks to the WorldBeat Center in San Diego, one of the community organizations leading this research, for producing our video. For more information about our work visit:

ICBO Results: Authenticity and Motivation

Understanding motivation for forming collaborations and doing ‘outreach’ in underserved communities is important. Authenticity is especi...