Innovations from the Margins: Creating Inclusive and Equitable Academic-Community Research Collaborations


  • Michael J. McNamara Sheridan College
  • Sara J. Cumming Sheridan College
  • Jessica Pulis Sheridan College



Participatory development, Creative problem-solving, Philanthropy, Food security Développement participatif, Résolution créative de problèmes, Philanthropie, La sécurité alimentaire


How does one build a Request for Proposals (RFP) process that allows for bottom-up participation while simultaneously being pragmatic and adept enough to manoeuvre the complexities of a multi-stakeholder environment defined by differing interests, objectives, mandates, and power dynamics? This article showcases the findings from participatory work with stakeholder groups working in the area of food security in Southern Ontario’s Halton Region. It demonstrates a process designed with the specific intent of increasing the engagement of beneficiaries and service providers in the RFP process. Finally, the article seeks to shed additional light on theory and practice of “participatory approaches” in the context of philanthropy. It is important to be realistic in not reifying participation itself in this context. In both theory and practice, this means adopting lenses and models that openly consider the complex realities, political obstacles, and trade-offs that occur when negotiating participation in this environment.

Cet article aborde la question suivante: comment créer un processus de demande de propositions (DP) permettant une participation ascendante tout en étant suffisamment pragmatique et suffisamment habile pour gérer les complexités d’un environnement multipartite défini par des intérêts, objectifs, mandats et dynamiques de pouvoir différents? La question est répondue en présentant les résultats d’un projet de travail participatif intégrant des intervenants travaillant dans le domaine de la sécurité alimentaire dans la région de Halton, dans le sud de l’Ontario. L’article illustre un processus conçu qui a le but spécifique d’accroître la participation des bénéficiaires et des fournisseurs de services au processus de demande de propositions. Enfin, l’article cherche à apporter une réflexion additionnelle sur la théorie et la pratique des « approches participatives » dans le contexte de la philanthropie. Il met de l’avant l’importance d’être réaliste dans ses attentes pour ne pas réifier les bienfaits de la participation dans ce contexte. En théorie et en pratique, cela signifie d’adopter des objectifs et des modèles qui tiennent compte ouvertement des réalités complexes, des obstacles politiques et des compromis qui se produisent lors de la négociation de la participation un tel environnement.


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Author Biographies

Michael J. McNamara, Sheridan College

Michael McNamara is Project Director of the Community Ideas Factory and a Professor of Creativity and Creative Thinking at Sheridan College

Sara J. Cumming, Sheridan College

Professor, Sociology

Jessica Pulis, Sheridan College

Professor, Criminology


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