Project gives students a voice

What makes a healthy university community? A major research project at the University of B.C. Okanagan is asking that question...

What makes a healthy university community? A major research project at the University of B.C. Okanagan is asking that question starting this month and continuing through the next year.

The VOICE 2012 project involves more than 100 students as co-researchers, working with faculty and staff to explore ways to create, renew or sustain health-promoting campus change.

It’s actually a new round of healthy campus research, replicating and extending previous VOICE research conducted from 2006 to 2011, said associate professor emeritus of nursing Claire Budgen, one of the more than 16 faculty and staff researchers working on the project.

“Results from the previous VOICE studies indicated that many health-promoting campus changes were associated with the research — for example, improved quality of drinking water, food, student space, activity and outdoor trails,” says Budgen.

Funded through Campus Health grants, the research involves both community engagement and the collection of pictures, facts, figures and testimonies.

All campus community members and visitors are welcome to participate.

To support the inclusion of diverse views, the student co-researcher team will include students from multiple disciplines and backgrounds.

Student researchers began early in September by taking photos that identify health issues on campus.

October has seen students canvassing the campus with a community dialogue survey that seeks to find out what UBC students, faculty and staff think about the health of the campus, strengths and struggles.

“This study will contribute new knowledge to the field of healthy campus development, in particular, navigating diverse perspectives,” said Budgen.

“For UBC Okanagan, the extensive involvement of students working with non-students to improve the campus is anticipated to have an immediate positive impact and, as well, a longer-term effect on how those involved take forward what they have learned to future issues and other community settings.”

Results of the first phase of VOICE 2012 will be provided at a campus-wide forum Nov. 21.