Community Autonomy and Place-Based Environmental Research

Recognizing and Reducing Risks




Place-based research, research ethics, environmental research, community-based research


Academic and government-directed research is generally portrayed as a benign problem-solving enterprise. There is a long record of important theories, discoveries, and solutions to sticky problems that research has produced. But alongside this list of important advances in knowledge, there has been a record of damage to individuals and to communities as a whole when place-based research has not been implemented thoughtfully. Researchers conducting community-facing projects are increasingly aware that place-based research may generate risks at a community level. This literature review identifies a set of dynamics through which place-based environmental research projects can undermine community autotomy where research takes place and offers a set of recommendations for researchers and institutions who wish to adopt research practices and institutional supports that honor community autonomy.


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