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Community-Engaged Research Serves San Joaquin Valley

January 30, 2012

About 180 people attended a conference at UC Merced that connected researchers with community members working to improve the lives of the San Joaquin Valley’s young people.

The December conference, “Building Healthy Youth in Merced County: Community Engagement and Scholarship,” showcased successful research and evidence-based programs that can promote positive youth development in Merced County. It was organized by the campus’ Chancellor’s Task Force on Community Engaged Scholarship and sponsored by the Building Healthy Communities initiative.

“We want to foster community-engaged scholarship,” psychology Professor and task force Chairman Jan Wallander said. “We think this can help solve the challenges the area faces.”

Presenters from other UCs and nonprofit organizations talked about youth arts programs, collaborations between school districts and community organizations, restorative justice, wilderness and academic programming, and 4-H engagement.

UC Merced’s Task Force on Community-Engaged Scholarship was awarded two years of funding from The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative to strengthen the collaboration between the campus and community. The alliance will work to build a body of knowledge about local health issues as well as the factors that influence health equity.

Jonathan London, director of the UC Davis Center for Regional Change and assistant professor in the Department of Human and Community Development, gave a presentation on visualizing health, wealth, knowledge and action.

“If we can understand the issues, we can do something to make sure our young people are successful,” he said.