Nurturing Undergraduate Scholarship through Collaborative Community Engagement

Lakehead University measures success according to its new Strategic Plan and that Plan's five pillars – one of which includes Nurturing Scholarship and Community Engagement.

This story is an excellent example of the positive achievements that can be made by taking advantage of unique scholarship, research and community partnership opportunities.

In fall 2011, Lakehead University’s Kristen Jones-Bonofiglio was invited by the Canadian Mental Health Association-Thunder Bay Branch (CMHA) to join a newly formed ethics committee as a community representative.

Her role as Faculty at the School of Nursing as well as her expertise in mental health nursing was a good fit for this service commitment. At that time a very keen fourth-year nursing student, Esa-Pekka Leinonen, had begun working with Kristen to gain research experience.

He was interested in mental health and it seemed like a good fit to ask him to work on a literature review of what other community mental health organizations (globally) were considering as best practice guidelines for ethics and ethics education. The evidence-based document that Esa created became the road map for the plans that developed over the course of the next two years.

Supported by bioethicist Dr. Julija Kelecevic at the Centre for Health Care Ethics (CHCE), the ethics committee updated policies and procedures, and developed and implemented a research ethics protocol for the agency. Preliminary ethics training was delivered for the members of the ethics committee.

Training for all CMHA staff as well as members of the Board was provided by Michelle Allain, bioethicist (CHCE) during the summer of 2013.

In October 2013, CMHA-Thunder Bay Branch received a visit from the accreditation team and they were nothing short of impressed by the quantity of progress that had been achieved as well as the quality of the endeavours undertaken by the committee, working in close collaboration with the resources available through a strong university partnership.

This is a shining example of how Lakehead University contributes to excellence through collaboration with community partners, and provides opportunities for students to make a difference through research and scholarship.