Enroll for Maʻawe Pono: a course on Indigenous, community-based research

Earlier this year, we shared a hypothesis about how community-based, participatory action research is an effective framework for Brigades to have beneficial impact in our communities. One of the greatest strengths of the Brigade Network is its place-based structure – each Brigade is rooted in a community, allowing us to work closely with community members and local organizations to solve problems together.

However, building with a community – rather than for a community – requires intensive learning and listening. It requires tools to cultivate relationships with communities, practices that involve all stakeholders at every step of the research process, and skills helpful for identifying and addressing real community needs.

:sparkles: Starting in June, the Network will be rolling out Maʻawe Pono - Engaging in Community Research: a new course designed to help you cultivate the skills you need to carry out impactful community-based, participatory action research projects in Indigenous and diverse communities, which, like Brigades, are rooted in concepts of place.

This course will help you:

:one: Build relations with diverse stakeholders
:two: Construct research questions that address authentic community needs
:three: Engage in action research that is ethical and sensitive to community realities


We are launching this course as a part of our Summer 2022 Impact Sprints as a resource for all volunteers to develop the skills that will enable partner-driven impact through brigade project work. Brigade/Network volunteers, Code for America fellows, and Code for America staff are invited to take part in this course!


:small_orange_diamond: Course Schedule & Expectations

  • This online course runs from June 16 - September 11, 2022 and is completely asynchronous.
  • There are a total of (5) two-week lessons, designed to be completed over a period of 10-12 weeks. Learners are expected to spend a minimum of 4 hours per week, completing the content of each of the five lessons online, as well as engage in activities in their community.
  • Individuals who successfully complete all of the course requirements within the 12-week period will be eligible to receive a Certificate in Indigenous Action Research microcredential!

:small_orange_diamond: About The Instructor

  • This course is co-sponsored by Code for America (CfA), in partnership with Kū-A-Kanaka LLC.
  • This course is taught by Dr. Kū Kahakalau (Aunty Kū), a native Hawaiian educator, researcher, cultural practitioner, grassroots activist, songwriter, and expert in Hawaiian language, history, and culture. A resident of Hawaiʻi Island, Dr. Kahakalau is the first person in the world to earn a PhD in indigenous education. Dr. Kahakalau’s research has resulted in the indigenous research methodology called Māʻawe Pono, and its application in community research.
  • Aunty Kū has been involved in Indigenous, particularly Hawaiian, Education and Research for over 30 years and provides a wide range of small and large-scale cultural and professional development, consulting and research services. Her work in research continues to be used successfully by, with and for the benefit of Hawaiian communities.
  • Aunty Kū was selected as an MIT SOLVE Indigenous Communities fellows for her work on EA Ecoversity leveraging personalized, hybrid learning to teach the foundations of Native Hawaiian language and culture—connecting Native Hawaiians to career opportunities.

:small_orange_diamond: What You’ll Learn

Learning Objectives

  • Learners will understand basic foundations of effective community research.
  • Learners will be able to engage in impactful research projects benefiting Indigenous and other diverse communities.

Course Outline

LESSON 1: Contextualization and Problem Framing

  • Scoping Community Needs in Preparation for Research
  • Acknowledging Indigenous Realities

LESSON 2: Introduction to Action Research

  • Co-designing Generative/Evaluative Participatory Research
  • Engaging in Qualitative/Quantitative Community Action Research

LESSON 3: Personal Involvement in Research Process

  • Immersion in Research Process
  • Incubation of Knowledge

LESSON 4: Analysis and Synthesis of Research

  • Articulation of Solution
  • Presentation of Research Findings to Community Audience

LESSON 5: Creating Impactful Long-term Solutions

  • Application of Research Findings
  • Performance-Based Assessment of Learning to Authentic Audience

:small_orange_diamond: Interested in enrolling for Maʻawe Pono - Engaging in Community Research?

Brigade/Network volunteers as well as Code for America fellows and staff are invited to participate in this course. If you’d like to enroll, please:

  1. Review the course syllabus.
  2. Email brigade-info@codeforamerica.org to let us know you’re interested.

As a reminder, the asynchronous course will open on June 16. If you have questions about the course, feel free to fill out the form or leave a comment below!

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