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Specialist short course

EmpOwering community engagement and involvement in global health research

Increasingly, global health funders require grant recipients to incorporate community engagement and involvement or public engagement and involvement into their research design, implementation, and dissemination approaches.

This course offers an opportunity for participants to work through the thorny questions and challenges that arise when undertaking Community Engagement and Involvement (CEI) in practice. It will cover core principles and innovative methodological approaches.

As a CEI practitioner, this in-person training will empower you in your challenging work, helping you to:

  • become more strategic in how you position your approaches within global health research consortia and stand-alone projects
  • better communicate the outcomes of this work
  • use practices of critical reflexivity and complex adaptive management to push the CEI agenda forward more effectively.
"More than the theory, it was a chance to speak to people in a very similar situation as me. CEI can be quite isolating from an institutional perspective especially if you are the sole person responsible for it. Conversations with the facilitators and course participants was cathartic and challenged my ways of working."
"The facilitators were both structured and adaptive, providing a strong and secure learning environment that reached the course objectives via inclusive yet stimulating methods."
"I will transfer what I've learned to my research team and local partners in Lebanon in our learning site as we are closely working with the local community there. I am also conducting a capacity strengthening session on CEI to the wider ReBUILD for Resilience consortium this month to cascade what I learnt."

Global health research course aims

This specialist course has the following aims:

  • For participants to develop skills, strategies and methods to enable diverse knowledges that ‘count’ in global health research.
  • As well as develop strategies to integrate Community Engagement and Involvement (CEI) across project life cycles and beyond. 
  • To provide a space for critical reflection and supportive peer-to-peer learning for CEI practitioners.

Who should attend this course?

  • Community engagement and involvement practitioners who want to build their skills, particularly if they are new to international health research collaborations.
  • Participatory research practitioners who are new to working in the health space.
  • Public/global health researchers who have some prior experience of working at community level but not yet in the context of co-produced research.

How you will learn

This course will follow the logic of a project or programme life cycle.

Each day we will focus on the principles, methods and approaches relevant to the challenges of distinct phases of undertaking CEI within the context of health research, e.g. establishing trust, community sensemaking, adapting and learning, accountability cycles, collective analysis, and mobilising learning for change.

We will cover topics including:

  • Meaningful versus tokenistic forms of CEI
  • Ethical dimensions of CEI, including inclusivity in practice
  • Shaping health policy and practice through CEI and participatory monitoring and evaluation approaches.

Some of these themes relate to course materials previously developed by IDS for the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). But this course will differ in that it will give you an opportunity to dive more deeply into the issues raised in virtual teaching spaces, and to generate new learning through the peer-to-peer engagement this training provides.

The course will contribute to the learning objectives through modelling – in design and delivery – the approaches and methods we are encouraging you to adopt and integrate into your work.

We will take an adaptive learning approach to our collective learning process, so you will have time for reflection, as well as being given feedback, and adaptation will be built into the five-day cycle.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this in-person short course you will be able to:

  • Design, implement, analyse and ‘make public’ the outcomes of community engagement and involvement in health research from a power-aware perspective.
  • Adapt participatory Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) approaches to health research.
  • Shape health policy and practice through the application of CEI approaches.
  •  Integrate CEI through project and programme life cycles.
  • Better empower communities to be actively and thoughtfully engaged in health research processes.
  • Develop strategies for creating space within research processes for the meaningful inclusion of a diversity of community members and stakeholders’ perspectives.
  • Have a deeper understanding of the intersecting experiences of stigma, marginalisation, and exclusion, so that you can develop contextually grounded and reflexive research and engagement in partnership with communities.
  • Demonstrate to the global health research community how you can creatively embed and integrate CEI throughout research processes and wider programmatic functions, including through close collaboration between researchers and communication and public engagement professionals.

Why study this course with IDS?

  • Our course facilitators for Empowering Community Engagement and Involvement in Global Health research have decades of relevant experience between them, and each have distinct areas of expertise within the complexities of aware Community Engagement and Involvement work (CEI) in the health space. Their works spans regions that include Africa, Latin America, Australasia, the MENA region, the US and UK.
  • Course convenor Erica Nelson, Research Fellow, IDS Health and Nutrition Cluster, has over 20 years of experience working on issues of community-based public health, health systems development, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and the politics of knowledge in health research.
  • The course is also facilitated by Tom Barker, Senior Health Convenor, IDS Health and Nutrition Cluster. Tom brings 20 years of experience working in knowledge brokering, research communication, policy engagement, and parliamentary influencing in the UK health, global health and international development policy arenas, as well as collaboration with partners in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Tom was also recently a strategic communications advisor to The Lancet Global Health Commission on Financing Primary Health Care in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.
  • Rene Loewenson, Director, Training and Research Support Centre (TARSC), Zimbabwe, joins this course as guest facilitator. Rene is an epidemiologist, public health practitioner and a founder member of EQUINET in east and southern Africa – and cluster lead of its Equity Watch work. Rene has over 40 years’ experience and since 1980, has implemented participatory action research, policy analysis and training, as well as leading international research consortia on equity in health, social and commercial determinants of health and health systems, on social participation in health, on policy change in family and child health and wellbeing and on public health law.
  • Our facilitators are therefore uniquely placed to provide the latest thinking from the forefront of community engagement in a global health setting, as well as providing a diverse range of expertise and experiences.
  • The course is in person and interactive, allowing you time and space for peer knowledge sharing with other international development professionals and practitioners. This will allow for the generation of tangible ideas and solutions relevant to your work.
  • You will learn with the number 1 ranking institute in the world for development studies – which ensures you receive the highest quality of teaching, as well as exposure to the maximum impact and range of international development research available today.
  • IDS’ partnerships ensure our research has real-world impact. This means that our courses are designed to be applied and implemented in practical settings. This guarantees that you will acquire solutions to your organisation’s challenges that can be implemented practically on your return to work.

Location and building accessibility

This is an in-person short course, so please visit our contact page for information on how to get to IDS. Please also check the building accessibility information if required.

Key information

From 9 September 2024 until 13 September 2024
Institute of Development Studies Library Road Brighton BN1 9RE UK

Apply now

Secure your place on this course

Complete the online application form

Key contacts

Course facilitators

Erica Nelson

Research Fellow

Tom Barker

Senior Health & Nutrition Convenor

Director, TARSC

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