Link to CFERP Website

It is no secret that, to succeed, environmental protection programs must be sensitive to local cultural realities and social needs and the best of these programs invite and support the local community’s participation. To that end the Community Forestry and Environmental Research Partnerships (CFERP) program, the only fellowship program of its kind in the United States, supports graduate students doing participatory research on natural resource issues in collaboration with communities or community-based organizations in the United States. CFERP’s mission is to nurture a new generation of scholars and university-community partnerships to build scholarly and community capacity for stewardship of natural resources in ways that are socially just, environmentally sound, and economically sustainable.

Administered by the University of California, Berkeley, CFERP is open to graduate students pursuing social science or natural resource science degrees at any college or university. It’s goals are to develop good participatory research skills in practitioners such that research is scientifically rigorous and relevant to communities, nurture a new generation of scholars committed to engaging constructively with communities, and build community capacity to steward natural resources and have a voice in their own affairs.

The program pursues these goals through five main activities: 1) funding graduate student-led participatory research; 2) funding undergraduate internships and research assistantships; 3) conducting workshops; 4) producing publications; and 5) supporting networking among communities, academics, public agencies, NGOs, and private businesses. In the past eleven years CFERP has funded ninety-four fellows from forty different universities doing research in thirty-one different states.

Why participatory research?
Participatory research is founded on the principle that local people are knowledgeable about the environments in which they live and that the active engagement of community members in research can enhance analysis by diversifying the knowledge base and encouraging the examination of the research problem from many perspectives. Community members are full partners who participate in all phases of the research from question formulation, through data collection and analysis, to dissemination of results. As an essential component of the CFERP fellowships, participatory research produces robust, policy-relevant information rooted in local environmental, social, and economic needs and realities.
More about Participatory Research