New research in the Brown University TRI-Lab is showing that families who need help with early-childhood development don’t use available services as much as they might.
Alexandra Urban, a junior with an independent concentration in educational neuroscience, has been working with Dr. Patrick M. Vivier, director of general pediatrics and community health at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, and other community partners and Brown students and faculty to develop a survey they could deploy at Hasbro to examine the issue further.
“The exciting thing about TRI-Lab is, it really brings together community service with academic coursework,” said Urban, who like other students in the program had to apply to participate. “We want to better understand why families are not utilizing services so we can increase utilization as well as improve services themselves, tailored to what families actually want and need.”
Tying such research to real-world problems and solutions involving faculty, students and community partners is the broad goal of Brown University’s continuously evolving TRI-Lab.
Launched in 2013, the lab, whose acronym refers to “Teaching, Research and Impact,” last month added two more projects that will be phased in during the 2014-15 academic year: one on healthy-food access and the other on climate control and environmental justice.
In the TRI-Lab, a three-year cycle surrounding a yearlong seminar allows participants to explore the framework and context of a particular socially complex issue, use multiple perspectives to harness solutions, and find support for individual research.
Before a particular lab actually starts, the university offers conferences that connect the school and surrounding communities around an issue to cultivate interest. After the seminar, researchers and other participants can apply for seed funding to continue to work together to build knowledge around practical solutions.