Health Humanities and Arts Research Collaborative Awards Starter Grant through The Commons, Office of Research

Thursday, July 08, 2021

LAWRENCE – This summer, the Health Humanities and Arts Research Collaborative (HHARC) at the University of Kansas hosted a grant competition for seed funding to support interdisciplinary research at the intersection of health fields, arts and humanities. In this first round of seed funding, one collaborative team was awarded $3,500 to launch its idea.

The research project “Citizen Health Journalism: Workshop Series,” led by Carli Zegers, KU assistant professor of nursing, and Brynn Fitzsimmons, KU doctoral student in English rhetoric & composition, in collaboration with community partner Independent Media Association, will address how citizen journalism can support community-engaged health communication, better dialogue between health care professionals and the public, and media and health literacy. 

The project is unique in that it brings together a trusted community organization and scholars in both health communication and rhetoric/composition with community members to help them develop more effective tools for communicating with public audiences. Workshops will be offered in the Kansas City area and online.

“This project was rigorous in scope and timely in its relevancy,” said Tamara Falicov, associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. “There has never been a moment in recent memory where access to verifiable, scientific, credible information has been critical to the well-being of our communities.”

Workshop participants will learn from health care professionals and communication scholars who will discuss ethics, research strategies and collaboration possibilities when covering health-related topics, and they will have the opportunity for further collaboration and publishing with Independent Media Association, a citizen journalism project based in Kansas City, Missouri.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with citizen journalists from Independent Media Association for about a year now. From conversations about COVID-19 to housing rights to mental health care access, questions of health have come up repeatedly as crucial conversations in the community — but ones citizen journalists often struggle to report on due to how dense and inaccessible health information can be,” Fitzsimmons said. “I’m so excited to work with Carli and Independent Media Association on this series, which will help address these barriers by connecting citizen journalists to both health information resources and relationships with health care professionals.”

At its core, this grant opportunity offers a chance for researchers to come together with community partners to target health care inequity on local and broader scales.

“I believe this work is important for multiple reasons. Connecting professionals from the humanities and health sciences will help leverage the strengths of each profession to decrease the incredible disparities seen in our society. I am so excited to work with Brynn and the professionals at IMA to support citizen journalists and improve health literacy for individuals and the community,” Zegers said.

Funding for these grants is made possible by the KU Office of Research, through The Commons.