Researchers seeking to analyze AAPI’s civic engagement


Gérald Sastra/The Cougar

UH researchers have launched a project studying civic engagement among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders communities in the greater Houston area.

The study will span three years and will be partly led by a team of pre-screened young members of AAPI ancestry.

“There hasn’t been a lot of research on this,” said UH College of Social Work associate professor and lead researcher Suzanne Pritzker. “Especially when it comes to young AAPIs.”

The project aims to determine whether young AAPI feel they are included and fairly represented within their larger communities.

“This study is qualitative, not quantitative,” Pritzker said. “How you or I define civic engagement is not the relevant question here, it’s how (AAPI communities) define it and whether or not they feel included in the civic process.”

Pritzker, who also works with six other nonprofits, will assemble a team of young AAPIs from Houston to help with the research.

“They won’t just be sitting on the sidelines, they’ll be actively participating in the research process,” Pritzker said.

Community-based participatory research focuses on involving participants in the work itself, rather than treating those involved simply as subjects to be studied. Young people selected to participate in the study will undergo training in Institutional Review Board, an organization that sets standards and practices for the conduct of human research.

“The goal here is to avoid alienation,” Pritzker said. “We want these people to know that they are not just data points, they are an active and valued part of the process.”

Data collection will not be the sole responsibility, but also the formulation of the research itself. This includes creating questions for focus groups, conducting peer reviews as well as drawing conclusions and providing recommendations to organizations based on the research.

The study is just months away from its planned three-year duration, but the process is going smoothly, Pritzker said.

“We have completed the planning phase and are now moving to building a research team,” Pritzker said. “So far, five young AAPIs have signed up to be part of the process.”

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Key words: aapi, citizen engagement, research