TRU Research and Graduate Studies Department celebrates Research Day

TRU President and Research Faculty discussed the importance of community-engaged research

On Tuesday, Oct. 1, the Research and Graduate Studies Department of TRU celebrated Research Day.

The event, which was held in the Mountain Room of the Campus Activity Centre, featured a presentation from the university’s president as well as an interactive panel discussion with other research faculty and members of the local community.

Hosted by Dr. Will Garrett-Petts, the Associate Vice-President of Research and Graduate Studies, the event provided an ideal networking platform for members of the TRU community interested in research.

“As an open-access research university, Thompson Rivers University boasts a comprehensive set of assets including trades training, open learning…and outstanding faculty in all the traditional academic areas,” he said.

“Research then, broadly defined, is central to our mission ensuring local and regional relevance, commitment to community engagement, a continued leadership role and scholarship with impact nationally and internationally.”

Mr. Garrett-Petts added that TRU is also determined to “demonstrate national leadership” through creating “equitable access and undergraduate research experiences” for its students.

He insisted that learning in its truest form indicates that some level of research was involved and asserted that this factor is evident at TRU, which was recently commended for its “innovative integration of student research training.”

In his keynote address, TRU President Dr. Brett Fairbairn shared findings from his personal research as an academic.

Referencing his book, “Risk and Relevance: A Journey of a cooperative scholar,” which was published earlier this year, Mr. Fairbairn talked about “insights” he said played a significant role in how his career was established.

“Those of us in senior leadership roles at universities immerse ourselves in our roles and my job day in and day out, is to support your work and your research and your teachings,” he told TRU faculty.

“And there’s a little bit of cognitive dissonance involved in my standing in front of a TRU audience to talk about my own personal research.”

Still, Dr. Fairbairn asked attendees to listen attentively as he explained how he designed his research and talked about the knowledge he gained from his experience.

He did this by placing his studies in the “context of a journey” that went beyond a “single piece of research,” highlighting instead how it contributed to his overall professional development as a “researcher and scholar.”

“There are many ways in which the works that we produce as researchers in every stage are a combination of everything we have done up to that point,” he said.

During the discussion segment, panellists were asked what they thought community-engaged research meant for individuals working at universities and within the wider community.

Jennifer Tedman-Jones, the representative for Mitacs, an independent non-profit organization whose role is to “reach out to industry and community partners and create connections with academia,” said her organization is looking for “betweenness.”

“This is a space where Canada has all of the right ingredients to become a global leader except we consistently lag behind other countries like Germany and Japan,” she said.

“We believe that the key to becoming that leader is by building meaningful relationships and Mitacs approaches in two different ways. The first is with the business development team and the second is through internship based models,” she explained.

Overall, Research Day was a success and gave faculty and students a great opportunity to learn about new projects and initiatives, as well as network with fellow researchers.