Farrah Jacquez named winner of 2013 Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement

Farrah Jacquez has been awarded the 2013 Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement. The award recognizes early-career faculty who practice exemplary engaged scholarship through teaching and research. Recipients are selected on the basis of their collaboration with communities, institutional impact, and high-quality academic work.

Farrah Jacquez, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cincinnati, is dedicated to reducing health disparities for underserved communities—with a particular focus on children. Dr. Jacquez’s approach to community-engaged scholarship underscores the value of reciprocity and collaboration, incorporating the expertise of community members most directly affected by health inequities, individuals from positions of power within community agencies and academic partners, including students. Her nuanced understanding of the role that individual motivations and interests of community and academic stakeholders play in the design and implementation of community-engaged projects greatly improves the chances for success.

Utilizing community-based participatory research (CBPR), Farrah Jacquez involves community residents directly in the design and facilitation of research projects and the implementation of interventions that may occur as a result of the research. Inherent in this process is the importance of local knowledge in understanding and addressing community health problems.

Central to the effectiveness of community-academic partnerships is the identification of clearly-stated goals by all partners. For instance, as part of the process for developing a successful joint grant application with the Adams County Health & Wellness Coalition (ACHWC)—a community organization comprising a diversity of key stakeholders dedicated to combating obesity—the team established a process for identifying individual member goals for projects involving nutrition education in grocery stores and public schools. This, in turn, allowed coalition members to choose projects with mutually beneficial objectives.

Most of Dr. Jacquez’s projects have been cross-disciplinary through the collaboration of academic and community colleagues with diverse backgrounds. In one example, Dr. Jacquez collaborated with a geographer and several community stakeholders in Covington, Kentucky, to conduct a participatory research study in which local youth mapped the benefits and challenges of accessing physical activity in their neighborhoods and then created a prioritized list of needs for enhancing such access. By merging the expertise of a geographer and a psychologist with the expertise of the youth living in the neighborhoods, the team produced meaningful information immediately useful and applicable in a real-world context. As a result, these youth-generated maps and needs-assessments have been submitted to the City of Covington to help inform future development plans.

At the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Jacquez teaches courses using service-learning pedagogy in which students serve as collaborators in identifying project priorities, designing the projects and evaluating project performance. For example, in 2011, students enrolled in her “Diversity & Health” course worked with elementary-school students to create funding proposals benefiting health and wellness at a partnering school. The undergraduates in the course made decisions about how best to work with the elementary-school students, the method by which to make presentations (e.g., songs, plays, testimonials) and the criteria by which they were graded on their performance in the class. Currently, a group of Jacquez’s students is spearheading participatory research efforts with youth in Latino-serving schools to identify unique stresses and coping strategies among Latino immigrant youth and to develop nutrition education media products.

Reflecting on her work, Dr. Jacquez writes, “My passion for addressing health inequities has led me to engage communities in every aspect of my professional life. My research focuses on working with community partners to develop child health interventions. Through service activities, I attempt to represent the interests of my partnering communities to promote policies and decision-making that will promote health. In my teaching, I have increasingly engaged community partners to provide context to the content we teach in higher education.”

Read Dr. Jacquez’s article, “Demonstrating Impact as a Community-Engaged Scholar within a Research University” (Metropolitan Universities Journal, Vol. 25, No. 2).