How to develop and maintain community partnerships for mutual gain

The Environmental Resilience Institute is advancing research that matters. At the heart of that endeavor exists the need to work collaboratively across disciplinary boundaries, and to co-develop projects in conjunction with our community partners. ERI recognizes the need for professional development, for faculty and students, to support a change in how we approach research at UVA. 

We are partnering with UVA’s Institute for Environmental Negotiation, a leader in “empowering communities to create shared solutions”. Through this partnership we will be offering training opportunities that help faculty connect with community partners, sustain productive relationships, generate products of mutual benefit, communicate the benefits of co-development, and avoid the pitfalls of such efforts.

What will I learn?

In this workshop you will learn the foundations for developing healthy, mutually beneficial relationships with community partners. The workshop includes opportunities to meet faculty from a variety of fields, and learn together about a variety of topics, including:

  1. Questions to ask to help you identify potential partners
  2. Best practices for exploring potential partnerships with transparency and integrity
  3. Coming up to speed on historical antecedents in the community you wish to work with, including understanding past interventions and their impacts (intended and unintended)
  4. Exploring ways to ensure a relationship continues to be mutually beneficial over time.

Who should attend?

  • You conduct research that prioritizes or requires community partnerships and community engagement.
  • You teach classes where you ask your students to do research in the community and meet with residents, community nonprofits, businesses, or other groups.
  • You want to do work that you know would be enhanced and enriched through partnership with one or more community groups, while also ensuring they benefit in concrete ways.
  • You want to manage a partnership that avoids extraction and exploitation of community knowledge and assets.

About the trainer

Kristina Weaver, PhD 
Associate Director
Institute for Environmental Negotiation

An experienced mediator, facilitator, and trainer, Kristina Weaver is passionate about assisting diverse stakeholders in planning and collaborating for strong outcomes. She has worked with dozens of organizations and communities ranging from grassroots projects and nonprofits to corporations and government agencies. Her facilitation work has spanned strategic planning retreats, multi-stakeholder consensus building processes, and long-term community engagement efforts. Kristina draws from an interdisciplinary academic background; she holds a joint doctorate in geography and English literature with a research focus on social movements and natural resource conflict in West Africa. Her recent work with the Institute for Environmental Negotiation includes projects on sustainable food systems, environmental justice, and community engagement around racism. Kristina has a keen understanding of how to help researchers design collaboration with ethics and sustainability in mind. Her approach is informed by a successful career as a grants consultant; since 2012 Kristina has helped clients garner more than $41 million in awards.


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