A researcher from Tokyo University’s Graduate School of Social Welfare visited the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research to learn about the center’s work on participatory research and youth development.
Associate Professor Kaoru Fujishima and a translator Nami Hisatsugu spent two days meeting with BCTR researchers and students to learn about a variety of projects including ACT for Youth, Cornell Project 2Gen and the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE). They also met with the 4-H international exchange program to learn how Japanese high school students are involved.
Fujishima was particularly interested in learning about ACT for Youth’s current research on homeless youth because the project includes community youth as research assistants. She was able to meet with the community program that serves homeless youth in Ithaca, the Learning Web, and several youth research assistants. She also met with Monica Hargraves, associate director for evaluation partnerships at Cornell Office for Research on Evaluation (CORE).
Fujishima was conducting background research for a project she is beginning to apply models of “participatory evaluation” and youth development. She learned many lessons from BCTR researchers that she will apply to her own projects, she said.
“I have learned that researchers should respect the fact that young people know their issues and support them to be involved in the research on their issues,” she said. “This is how we know their true issues and we can develop collaborative relationships with the youth.”
She also learned about the nuts and bolts of how to run a research project, she said. “Research activities in Japan have a lot of restrictions which I realize should be changed,” she said. “At the BCTR, all members of the research team have clear roles and are able to manage their work by themselves.
“Program staff and community members trust BCTR and BCTR respects program staff’s activities in the community.”
The BCTR staff also learned from their visitors, Jane Powers said. “They got to see all of the aspects of our work, and it was really meaningful for them and for us,” she said. “It was fascinating to learn about their work in Japan. They were incredibly appreciative to spend time with us, and to be welcomed by so many BCTR projects.”