Capacity Bridging: Reciprocity at Work In Research


Janice Duddy, PAN’s Director of Evaluation and Community-Based Research, had the opportunity to speak with Sherri Pooyak, the Community Based Research Manager with the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network/Aboriginal HIV & AIDS CBR Collaborative Centre (AHA Centre), about an interesting new idea called capacity bridging.

‘Capacity-bridging’ is an emerging term proposed by the AHA Centre that moves away from the implied deficits that accompany the term ‘capacity-building,’ and aims to instead acknowledge that all parties bring skills and knowledge to a collaborative experience. A capacity-bridging model recognizes and works to ‘bridge’ these diverse forms of knowledge to achieve a more rigorous and fulsome outcome.

As Sherri explains the idea of capacity bridging in the interview:

Capacity bridging is this idea of reciprocity … and sharing knowledge between academics, researchers, community-based researchers and community people. What we are really talking about is the idea of coming together. Often times in research it is seen as — we come in, we are researchers, we are experts, we are doing to do some research for you, and then we are going to leave. Really a helicopter approach [to research]. We have evolved from this greatly  and now we really consider community input and direction, and we try to really engage community as much and as often as we can. We work hard to do this. Then we realized that the idea of capacity building needs to go one step more — we are not just building capacity within community or with other academics, we are learning from each other. So it is about learning together as we go along… really the bridging part is about reciprocity. We are learning from community —they are experts in their knowledge, just as we are experts in our knowledge and it is about coming together to find this common ground.

There are many other academic ways of talking about this but we have reframed it to fit how we understand it in community-based research… We are not just the experts but rather we are looking to community to say, “you understand your world way better than we do but we understand this academic world better than you do.” So we are coming together, to move forward in a respectful way to do research in a good way.


Please watch the video below to learn more about capacity bridging.


Capacity Bridging from PANBC on Vimeo.

Questions? Feedback? Get in touch!WEB-Janice-Duddy

Janice Duddy, Director of Evaluation and Community-Based Research
[email protected]