2022 GCSW Hub for Engaged Action Research (HEAR) Lab Reflect on Walk N Listen Activity - University of Houston
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GCSW Hub for Engaged Action Research (HEAR) Lab Reflect on Walk N Listen Activity



Pictured Above (Left to Right): Anil Arora, Associate Dean of Research and Faculty Development Sarah Narendorf, Aly Jacobs (MSW '22), and Jody Gardner

May 15, 2022

(HOUSTON, TX) - In March 2021, The University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW) launched a new initiative to create and share research in innovative ways. The Hub for Engaged Action Research Lab, (HEAR Lab) works to build the capacity of scholars to disseminate anti-racist research that is collaborative, accessible, centers community, and fuels social change.

As its first activity, The HEAR Lab launched its first guided self study. The #WalkNListen podcast series  highlighted the intersectional experiences from women of color whose work has had an impact in our society. In honor of Women’s History Month, four podcasts were chosen by the HEAR Lab team with and invitation to take a walk while listening to the selected podcast. 

We spoke to Dr. Sarah Narendorf, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development who leads the HEAR Lab with GCSW doctoral students Anil Arora, Jody Gardner, and Aly Jacobs (MSW '22). Below they share some thoughts on the first #WalkNListen activity, as well as the mission of the GCSW HEAR Lab.

You can access the #WalkNListen activity here.


What was the goal of the Walk N Listen activity? 

"One of the goals of the HEAR Lab is to cultivate anti-racist scholars. We do this by facilitating conversations that get scholars to engage with materials that assist them in thinking about how structures and systems shape our perceptions. Our Walk N Listen series is an opportunity for all folks in our community to listen to a scholar that approaches their work from an anti-racist perspective and has shared knowledge that can inform future conversations."                                                                                                   –Sarah Narendorf

What was the most illuminating/surprising/impactful thing you learned during the #WalkNListen activity?

"I was moved by a quote from the podcast featuring Laura Gómez discussing Critical Race Theory. The host states: "Critical Race Theory is a lens to understand how we got to where we are. And so I love that it's been accepted and adopted by leaders who want to drive their culture forward." I connected to that quite profoundly. I want to be a leader in our community that creates spaces where individuals have the opportunity to move their culture forward.

"Having joined the HEAR lab as an Amplifier, I look forward to becoming more involved in the practice of disseminating the work and research happening at the GCSW focusing on creating social change. –Aly Jacobs

Why did you become involved with the HEAR Lab as a doctoral student?

As a first-generation student, I have always been interested in better understanding and conducting research. This interest is what led me to pursue a public impact scholarship. Being a part of the HEAR Lab is one of the first steps to crafting easily understandable and impactful community research for everyone. Another reason I joined HEAR Lab is to ensure that the research process and initial moments are built upon an anti-racist foundation and are accessible to community members. Finally, being a part of the HEAR Lab will create change in how research questions are asked, conducted, and shared with the public, creating a space for voices to be amplified.                                                                                                                              –Anil Arora

Why was it essential to launch the HEAR Lab with this activity?

"The mission of the HEAR lab is to disseminate research. This activity allowed us to create an opportunity for a self-guided study to spread and connect research to the community."                                    –Jody Gardner

How does the mission of the HEAR Lab and activities such as the Walk N Listen align with the GCSW's vision of achieving social justice? 

We will only achieve our vision of achieving social justice if the research we generate informs policy and practice solutions. The HEAR Lab focuses on supporting scholars so that they can ask big questions that can result in significant impact. We also plan to disseminate the research results in ways that can shape policy. We see the Walk N Listen activity as an opportunity to get our community thinking about ourselves and the types of questions we might be asking and provide examples of models of impactful scholarship that can inspire us all.                                                                                                                              –Sarah Narendorf

How were the podcasts selected? 

"We selected these podcasts through a collaborative multidisciplinary team approach. We launched in March, and March is Women's History Month, and we wanted to honor fantastic women scholars from diverse backgrounds."                                                                                                                   –Jody Gardner


What else should the community know about the GCSW HEAR Lab? 

"We are committed to ensuring that the HEAR Lab promotes conversations that increase our engagement with research and how community members can use this research to foster change. We see the public impact work of the lab as critical to achieving equity and justice."                                                       –Sarah Narendorf