Lower Brule Research's slogan is Community Centered Science, but what exactly does that mean? At its most fundamental, science is a systematic way of answering questions. It usually involves setting up experiments and gathering data in order to answer those questions, and then publishing the results for others to learn from. This system can be an incredibly powerful way to answer questions and gain knowledge about the world. It is so powerful that today America spends billions of dollars every year employing full time scientists to conduct scientific research and work to answer some of the most important questions facing our society. This system centers around the expertise of Principle Investigators, who often have advanced degrees, extensive research experience, and work for universities. Principle Investigators choose the research questions they and their lab will answer. They then conduct the studies and publish their results in peer reviewed journals for other researchers to read.
This publicly supported system allows professional scientists to answer some of the most complex questions ever devised - from cancer drug efficacy to dark matter. However, there are some drawbacks to this system, specifically in its ability to answer impactful questions around community health and wellness. In this context, having a single Principle Investigator choose a research question and the methods for answering it is limiting, especially when trying to address the multitude of questions relevant to an entire community. Instead, a different method is needed.
This is the basis for community centered science, in which the research questions are created jointly through community collaboration. Community members themselves then carry out the scientific investigations to answer the questions, and publish their results for other community members to learn from. This centers the scientific research process not on the expertise of a single professional scientist but instead around the broader community. The hope is that this approach will create scientific knowledge that is more relevant and useful to the community involved, and better positioned to address issues of community health and wellness.