For the good of the community

Local Impact

For the good of the community

Six teams of doctoral students have been working with organizations to address an issue of importance, both locally and further afield, through the PhD-Community Initiative.

May 10, 2023


The capstone event of the PhD-Community Initiative was held Tuesday evening at City Hall. During the event this year’s teams presented the results of their efforts in front of a crowd that included Mayor Bryan Paterson, Principal Patrick Deane, and Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.

Each year, interdisciplinary teams of PhD students work with organizations to address an issue of importance, both locally and further afield. This year, six teams worked with a diverse group of partners, including KFL&A Public Health, the Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holders Association, ABLE2, Bangladeshi-Canadian Community Services, and the City of Kingston.

The initiative, now in its seventh year, is led by the Queen’s School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs and is aimed at developing partnerships between students and organizations in Kingston and beyond. These teams work with their partner organizations to create toolkits, provide recommendations, and use research to address a pressing need or issue.

Throughout the process the teams are supported by mentors (including retired faculty members and staff) and participate in professional development workshops.

“The PhD-Community initiative empowers graduate students to apply their academic training to address socio-economic challenges facing our communities, both locally and nationally,” says Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs. “In their pursuit, our students have exemplified the importance of interdisciplinarity, collaboration, and relationship building as critical tools for creating a brighter future. I am immensely proud of their dedication and congratulate them on their remarkable achievements.”

Through the initiative, many students are able to give back to the community they now call home while also building bonds with colleagues from across campus. For participating organizations, they are able to benefit from the new potential offered by the interdisciplinary and analytical approach graduate students bring to the projects.

The following is a brief description of each of the 2022-2023 projects:

Partner: KFL&A Public Health
Project: Strategic plan support

This year, KFL&A Public Health is entering the strategic planning process to provide direction to agency activities for the next three to five years. As part of the process, stakeholder engagement is a key activity, providing the perspectives of staff, senior leadership, Board of Health members, and community partners on the agency’s vision, mission, values, and priority areas of action. The student team helped in developing a planning framework for stakeholder engagement, developing data collection tools (survey, interview guide, and more), conducting interviews, performing quantitative and qualitative data analysis, or writing reports.

Partner: Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH) Association
Project: Mapping networks of SAH support

Canada has a private refugee sponsorship model that enables groups of citizens and/or permanent residents to sponsor refugees to resettle in Canada. Most of this sponsorship takes place via organizations that hold an agreement with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH) Association provides a unified voice on private sponsorship policy issues, liaising with IRCC, managing the allocation of limited sponsorship spaces equitably among SAHs, and supporting the SAH community in their work. In this project, the student team helped map these support networks and support structures, with the goal of best supporting SAHs, and ensuring that all SAHs have a support network.

Partner: ABLE2: Support for People with Disabilities
Project: Measuring the social and economic impact on seniors

ABLE2 supports people of all ages across the disability spectrum and their families to live life as valued members of their communities. ABLE2's Matching Program works to ensure that seniors and people with disabilities and mental health challenges can live a good life, enrich their community, and ensure social inclusion and well-being. ABLE2 matches volunteers in the community with a person with a disability. The student team provided support to better measure the social and economic impact the Matching Program has on participating seniors. Improved evidence-based measurements will help ABLE2 to create better programming and find more sources of funding.

Partner: Bangladeshi-Canadian Community Services
Project: Understanding impact, increasing community engagement

Bangladeshi-Canadian Community Services (BCS) provides information, referrals, skill development and settlement services to diverse communities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). BCS offers a wide range of programming to support youth, seniors, women/girls, and newcomers, as well as intergenerational programming, including: health and recreational activities; opportunities for professional development, networking, and volunteering; employment and settlement counselling/referrals; navigating legal procedures, health care settings; and translation services. In addition, BCS conducts research to identify solutions to social challenges facing the community.

The student team was engaged in helping map the programming and better understand the impacts; increasing awareness of and engagement of programs and services; refining efforts to increase funding to support our operations; increase volunteer engagement to support our operations and our community overall.

Partner: City of Kingston
Project: Local early learning & child care market needs assessment

The City of Kingston, as the consolidated municipal service manager for early learning and child care programs and services within the City of Kingston and the County of Frontenac, was seeking insights into the supply and demand for early years programs and services. The student team helped with a market needs assessment to establish a baseline of the current supply and demand with the transition to the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) system. Through researching the federal program, the impacts of the provincial guidelines, local and comparable community promising practices, the city sought key insights to help inform future policy development. Another outcome was the development of an updated Early Learning and Child Care Service plan to help shape programs and services to meet long-term needs.

Partner: City of Kingston
Project: Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) model for the corporation of the City of Kingston

By exploring the work and experiences of Queen’s University the City of Kingston is hoping to identify how the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework could be used within the community, such as incorporating the SDGs into strategic plans and policy development to shape outcomes and monitor impact in the community. This work included research of practices in other municipalities, as well as insight from community stakeholders to help identify key next steps and create greater social impacts in the community. Through greater understanding of how SDGs could be used in a municipal context, key insights will inform a range of municipal strategies, policies, and council priorities by supporting evidence-informed decision making.

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