In recent years, I have been making more explicit links between my research, social justice, and action based research. With a background in linguistics and anthropology, I moved to the field of communication sciences and disorders in my master’s, PhD, and then as a professor. My work has been motivated by both the search for a better understanding of how language is learned by bilingual children, and the importance of supporting vulnerable members of our communities. Specifically, my goal has been to better understand bilingual development and speech development to support children and their families. As a junior academic with an expanding family, I found it challenging to keep my head above water. Now that I am a stronger swimmer, I am working on articulating the vision I hold for the lab: to create a framework that values excellence through equality, diversity and inclusion. I have found the work of Dr. Liboiron and the CLEAR Lab inspiring in thinking through these perspectives.
I am a novice and appreciate your kindness and patience as I work through the awkward first drafts. Here goes…
First, as you might have guessed, we take a Multilingual perspective to our work from start to finish. A key component of valuing the diverse perspectives within the lab and in our communities is using the language of the communities. As a lab, we are multilingual. When we don’t speak the language(s) needed for our research, we look to community members, often bright youth, to contribute their knowledge of the language and their community, and we aim to provide them a rich research experience.
From a Feminist perspective, the MFL builds a collaborative and non-exploitive relationships between students, between students and mentors, between researchers and community collaborators and participants. We will be actively engaged in building a cooperative and collaborative approach to managing processes from data collection to publication. As the Director of MFL, my goals it to develop a Lab Book that outlines our processes and protocols.
From a Social Justice perspective, the MFL conducts research that is meaningful to members of our communities and that has the potential to bring about change. We know that knowledge is not neutral and that it reflects power and social relationships. We need to decenter our field’s focus on white, middle-class, monolingual-English through systematic inquiry. To do this, our research actively collaborates with community members – often from the very beginning of projects. We also include measures to mobilize the knowledge we’ve created in the lab through workshops, meetings, and infographics. We aim to use research methods that support these goals such as Integrated Knowledge Mobilization, and Community Participatory Action Research.
Lastly, I aim to build a kind lab of generous scholars.
In June 2020, the Multilingual Families Lab discussed our values and what we wanted to bring forward. We illustrated our vision and spoke about it a bit earlier – check it out here.