Core Values of Engagement


The CPPR model reflects the five core values of equitable relationships: respect for diversity, openness, equality, empowerment (redirected power) and an asset-based approach to work.

Respect for diversity. We have found that the key to working together is to respect and honor our diversity both within and across community and academic groups. This means respecting and honoring the academic skills  brought to the table by the academic partners, while simultaneously respecting the life skills, community know-how, clinical expertise, and policy influence brought to the table by the community partners.

Openness. During the course of a project it may become clear that goals and expectations that are very important to one individual or group are less important to others. This hurdle can best be overcome through mutual openness and exchange of perspectives. Personal, organizational, and community histories should be shared. Team leaders help assure that each participant’s voice is heard, because openness and listening carefully to each other builds mutual respect and trust. This is how the CPIC Council has worked together.

Equality. In a Community Partnered Participatory Research initiative, successful community-academic partnerships are based on absolute equality of authority and decision-making power. However, such partnerships recognize that both community and academic participants bring skills and know-how to the table that are essential to a project’s success. Equal does not mean the same. The skill sets and knowledge base of members of a community-academic initiative can be complementary or overlap, and views may be similar or different. A CPPR project encourages and values participation by everyone – from the community person with a PhD of the street to the academic researcher. Any and every contribution can help shape the products and outcomes of the work.

Redirected Power (Empowerment). Empowerment is a central goal of many community-based participatory research projects, but we prefer the term redirected power. Communities already have power, which may include well-developed social, religious, political, educational, business networks, community-based organizations; and knowledgeable committed individuals who live and work in the community. However, communities may lack the resources to harness their power to achieve specific goals within a research-based initiative. Power is redirected to allow members with different backgrounds to be considered equally in decisions, and hence in the partnership as a whole.

Asset-based approach. Both academic and community members can fall into a conceptual trap: focusing on weaknesses and problems, which leads to deficit-based thinking. A successful community-academic partnership relies on asset-based thinking and problem-solving instead. Partners develop a pragmatic understanding of both problems and strengths. Building community and academic capacity to address unmet health needs becomes an opportunity to develop community-based evidence for sustainable interventions.