Just Research: Study, Struggle, Solidarity vol. 2

“Just Research: Study, Struggle, Solidarity” is a short workshop series on conducting public scholarship and democratizing the production of knowledge.

Building on the first Just Research series in the spring of 2021, this workshop takes place over 4 weeks, provides $500 as an honorarium upon completion, and is specifically tailored for adjunct instructors in the humanities and humanistic social sciences.

This workshop series aims to help CUNY Adjuncts to advance research projects (including but not limited to dissertations) that draw upon some aspect of Community-Based Research and related methodologies, such as Participatory Action Research, Collaborative Inquiry, and Practice-Based Research. Such research tackles community problems, with the aim of combining knowledge and action for policy or social change.

The workshop series will focus on

1. skills and strategies for participating effectively in such research,

2. navigating issues of rigor and validity in such work,

3. developing appropriate research strategies and outlines of presentations/ articles/ chapters for dissemination, and

4. building structures of support and room for reflexive work along the way.

Throughout the series, we will also prioritize our meetings as opportunities to broach typically overlooked or sensitive topics, to share concerns or reservations as well as aspirations related to our work, to support one another and make real progress on our respective projects, and to collectively share insights on negotiating academic milestones, disciplinary boundaries, and austerity in collaborative research.

This course aims to facilitate multi-disciplinary dialogues on theories and principles of community-based research (with special attention to race, gender, and class dimensions), the strengths and limitations of such approaches, and guiding practices and case studies/ models for successful research projects. We have designed this series to support and strengthen the significant scholarly, creative, and pedagogical work of adjuncts teaching in the humanities and humanistic social sciences across CUNY.


CUNY Adjuncts: This workshop is designed for CUNY-affiliated adjuncts/ researchers, who have already formulated at least an idea for a research project. We aim to think through and reflect upon research projects that center on the complexity of real-life sociopolitical contexts and struggles, and implications and impact upon people on the ground (alongside theoretical models and debates in academic literatures). We particularly encourage previous applicants to the CUNY Adjunct Incubator program to apply to participate in this workshop series, regardless of whether their applications were successful and received funding.

For CUNY Students: Before applying, please contact the office of financial aid at your campus to ensure that you are eligible to receive this funding without it adversely impacting your existing financial aid package. In your email to them, please include the fellowship amount, the semester you would receive it, and your EMPL ID, which you can find in CUNYFirst under Student Center.

Application deadline:

11:59 pm on Monday, February 21st, 2022.

Link to application 


At this time, we are able to provide a $500 honorarium for each participant upon completion of the workshop series.

Time commitment:

This workshop series is designed to require 4 hours of participation each week, comprising of roughly 2-3 hours of preparatory work and a 1.5-hour meeting each week.

Schedule: Fridays, 10:30 am -12:00 pm (Dates: 3/11, 3/18, 3/25, and 4/1)

How and why did we develop this workshop series?

This workshop series builds upon last year’s Just Research workshop series, which in turn followed the success of the CUNY Adjunct Incubator, a collaborative effort between the Gittell Collective and Center for the Humanities Mellon Foundation-funded Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research. The Adjunct Incubator project advocates to improve the material conditions of university life and make them more equitable for adjuncts, by supporting the significant scholarly, creative, and pedagogical work of adjuncts teaching in the humanities and humanistic social sciences across CUNY. Providing social, logistical, financial, and professional support for the creation and circulation of knowledge by CUNY adjuncts, this platform promotes the crucial work of part-time faculty across the CUNY community and senior college campuses.

We were struck by the immense interest in urgent, action-oriented public scholarship among adjunct instructors throughout the CUNY campuses. We developed this workshop series after noting the dearth of courses that emphasize (or even mention) participatory methods and methodologies in social research and the public humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center. Of particular importance is the centrality of ethics and the obligations of public university in anti-racist solidarities and public scholarship.

The first workshop series was led by Professor Celina Su (Environmental Psychology and Urban Education, director of the Gittell Collective) and Kendra Sullivan (Associate Director, Center for the Humanities). This year will be led by Jaime Jover (Gittell Postdoctoral Fellow in Urban Studies, Environmental Psychology Program at the Graduate Center), Anita Cheng (Film and Media Department at Hunter College & Art Department at Brooklyn College) and Aurash Khawarzad (Earth and Environmental Sciences at the Graduate Center), who participated last year.



1st session. March 11, 2022. Unpacking the roots and uses of participation in research 

Overview: the session will cover why is worth using participatory methods, discuss different approaches and how to select and adjust them depending on our research proposal, and how to navigate questions of positionality and ethical dilemmas that may come up. Readings:

  1. Cornwall, Andrea. 2008. Unpacking ‘Participation’: Models, Meanings, and Practice. Community Development Journal, 43:3, pp. 269–283.
  2. Appadurai, A. 2006. The Right to Research. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 4:2, pp. 167-177. 
  3. Pulido, L. FAQs: Frequently (Un)Asked Questions about Being a Scholar Activist, pp. 341-365, in Hale, Charles, ed., Engaging Contradictions.

2nd session. March 18, 2022. Articulating Methodologies: Positionality statements, framework decision making and how identity informs

Overview: How do we go about this? How do we select specific methods that help us to connect relevant theories and research questions to communities on the ground, and what we are ultimately interested in learning about? How do we articulate our positionalities using these methods?

Discussion: Guidelines for Qualitative Research: http://www.qualres.org/HomeGuid-3868.html and http://www.qualres.org/HomeComm-3597.html

  1. Stoecker, R. 1999. Are academics irrelevant? Approaches and roles for scholars in Community-Based Participatory Research. American Behavioral Scientist, pp. 840-854.
  2. Hale, Charles, ed., Engaging Contradictions. [See pp. 370-394 of Hale PDF.]
  3. Cairns, K. 2011. Ethnographic locations, Chapter 3 of dissertation.

3rd session. March 25, 2022. Revolutionary democratic people’s planning – escape routes from the capitalist endgame.   

Overview: This session will explore concepts of justice, sustainability, fulfillment, and more, as they relate to the ability of communities to appropriate, construct, and protect their own real-world environments. Additionally, we will explore methods for grassroots research, planning, and design, and models for partnership between academia and local action-research projects. 

  1. Brown, Wendy. In the Ruins of Neoliberalism: The Rise of Antidemocratic Politics in the West (Pages 24 – 39). July 16, 2019. 
  2. Meek, David. “Cracks in the Wall of Capitalism: The Zapatistas and the Struggle to Decolonize Science”. February 26, 2018.

4th session. April 1, 2022. Participants project’s presentation & final discussion

This workshop series is organized and co-sponsored by the Gittell Collective and Center for the Humanities Mellon Foundation-funded Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research.