CURE unites research needs with knowledge 

By Karen Herland

After two years of organizing Study in Action, a group of students working out of QPIRG (Quebec Public Interest Research Group) decided they wanted to do more. So they developed CURE.

The Community University Research Exchange connects students who are seeking to make a difference through their academic efforts with local projects that need research expertise and resources to strengthen and focus their interventions. By uniting needs with knowledge, the project is intended to improve the connection between the university and the community.

The PIRGs at McGill and Concordia pooled funding over the summer to hire Emilie Connolly and Shayla Chilliak to start canvassing community groups to help them identify possible research needs. Among the projects seeking student support are a Project Genesis-commissioned analysis of the impact of the provincial government’s action plan to combat poverty and social exclusion and an audit of immigrant and refugee rights and service organizations commissioned by Solidarity Across Borders.

An open house held at the 2110 Centre on Mackay attracted both more students hoping to find research work and groups like the university's CURA project, which collects stories from Montrealers who have experienced violence in conflict-ridden areas, submitted projects.

It’s really exciting to make these connections,” said Nathalie Cohen, QPIRG Concordia coordinator. She added that as an undergrad at the University of Winnipeg, she benefited greatly from similar opportunities.

“We had no graduate programs, so undergrads could TA or present conference papers. I was able to develop a project in a research methods class, and then conduct it the next year as an independent study.”

CURE organizers have worked with both universities to determine what administrative conditions are necessary to ensure that students get the academic credit and support they need. The projects themselves can be conducted as internships, independent projects or within the parameters of existing courses, as appropriate.

Cohen hopes that professors teaching research methods courses or whose classes provide opportunities for students to take on CURE's projects contact the group to develop collaborations.

"Ideally, it would be great if CURE could get in touch with community groups and work with them to develop projects to present to students," she said, adding that in going through files she found evidence of a similar QPIRG project that operated for several years a decade ago.

Meanwhile, Study in Action continues to offer undergraduate students researching in areas of community engagement and social justice the opportunity to share their research and develop skills presenting that work.

Next year's event will happen March 13 to 15, avoiding the end-of-term crunch that the previous two April events faced. This year's conference will address the negative impacts of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, including the displacement of individuals in the name of profit and tourism. Students are encouraged to start thinking about projects they may want to present and to get in touch with PIRG if they have questions.

To learn more about CURE, Study in Action, or any of their other projects, as a participant or to volunteer with the organizing collectives, contact them at or check out the website at


Concordia University