Repositioning Youth as Researchers Rather than the “Researched”…

“….[It] shifts the practice of researching “on youth” to “with youth”–a position that stands in sharp contrast to the current neo-liberal constructions of youth as dangerous, disengaged, blind consumers who lack any type of connection. Frustrated, alienated and angry survivors of discrimination mature into active policy critics and agents engaged in conversation, confrontation and reform.”

Participatory Action Research with, by and for YouthPublic Science Project, CUNY 2012

DataCenter firmly believes that youth have important knowledge about how to bring lasting solutions to injustices facing them. In order for them to unleash the power of their own expertise, we provide resources and tools to fulfill their Right to Know, and create informed analysis and solution and strategies to effectively engender change.

A dozen fearless, dedicated youth of color from around the country descended upon Oakland’s CTWO Mansion in March 2012, representing organizations such as Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance, Trans Youth Support Network, and Desis Rising Up & Moving, to participate in National Youth Organizing Training Institute (NYOTI). The program is annually organized by School of Unity and Liberation, belovedly known as SOUL (and conveniently, we’re also office-mates!).

Youth engage with research justice
DataCenter engages youth at research justice training workshop. Photo courtesy of Vay Hoang

DataCenter conducted a research strategy workshop as a part of this comprehensive, week-long intensive organizer training, and this is what they had to say:

“I found it to be most useful because it truly applied to any context, no matter what your area of expertise or organization. It can be put into practice immediately.”

“It was great because it broke down the perception of what research is and what it can be.”

“It was especially useful because it shifted my whole frame of thinking in talking about education and research. Now, it’s not something I feel challenged by, but a space for so many opportunities to strengthen our work.”

For many youths organizing on the front lines, research strategy surfaced as a critical gap between their intimate, expert knowledge of the conditions on the ground and their ability to effectively inform solutions with that knowledge.  It’s not magic, or a mystery – DataCenter breaks it down, step by step, and equips youth with the capacity to harness the power of research for their ends. This workshop is but a brief ‘tasting’ of the potential power of youth-led research. Contact us – whether it’s for your leadership development, classroom learning or a specific campaign – we taylor our extensive research justice training curriculum to fit any audience!

What is research justice? What does it look like? Learn more here!