Reflections on Experiental Learning Portal (Student Portal)

Getting Uncomfortable with Difficult Knowledge: A Reflexive Account of a Community-Based Research Project



The article provides a critical reflexive account of a community-based research project from the perspective of four undergraduate students and their professor. The project came out of a partnership with a local nonprofit organization that has long offered social justice-focused camps to high school-aged youth. Student-researchers conducted interviews and focus groups with former participants to better understand the camp’s potential longer-term impacts on their social justice knowledge and actions. Findings underscored the sometimes unsettling nature of social justice education as evidenced in how campers grappled with critical understandings of race, class, and gender. The paper presents student-researchers’ reflections on their own struggles in the development of critical consciousness as sociology majors. Utilizing complementary frameworks that encompass how student-researchers engage “difficult knowledge” (Britzman 1998) in the classroom and “uncomfortable reflexivity” (Pillow 2003) in their research, our account captures the sometimes messy, unfulfilled, and alternative possibilities of social justice education and community-based research.


Community-based researchsocial justice educationreflexivityqualitative research
  • Year: 2020
  • Volume: 3 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 3
  • DOI: 10.33596/coll.44
  • Published on 21 Feb 2020
  • Peer Reviewed