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CURE seeks to pull students out of ivory-tower doldrums

Online database links community organizations with university students

A new initiative instituted by Montreal university students is trying to partner community groups in need of research and university students in need of credit.

Through Community-University Research Exchange (CURE), an online database, community groups lacking economic resources and academic connections can post research proposals that will reach student networks.

CURE coordinator Emilie Connolly, U3 Cultural Studies said the initiative allows students to apply their research skills to practical and beneficial projects.

“It’s a rare thing to get your research direction from a source outside of academia,” Connolly said. “It’s a direct way to contribute to community organizations.”

Through CURE, students can browse a database for projects related to their area of study and then propose a writing term paper or complete an independent study project to their university department for academic credit. Topics vary from research into violence against the deaf in Algeria to mapping indigenous placenames in the greater Montreal area.

According to Connolly, the project, which posts research requests exclusively from Montreal groups, integrates university students with their surroundings.

“We made a conscious decision to concentrate on local groups so we could remain intimately connected with the students and community groups,” she said.

In keeping with their local focus, CURE hopes to expand by posting bilingual research proposals to make the database accessible to French universities in Montreal.

The non-profit, student-run initiative was born out of this year’s Study and Action conference, an annual meeting run through McGill and Concordia’s branches of the Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) that seeks ways of integrating university programs and social justice organizations such as Solidarity Across Borders and the Committee to Support Abdelkader Belaouni.

At the conference it became clear during panel discussions that community groups’ greatest need is often research, an area well-suited to student contribution.

“We realized that there was a concrete way to fortify links between academics, students, and activists,” Connolly wrote in an email to The Daily.

CURE coordinators took their initial cues from activists at Simon-Fraser University in Vancouver that introduced a similar project at their University that has since become widely successful.

For now CURE is bypassing official collaboration with the University administration, instead choosing to offer research ideas and work directly with interested students and professors.

“We think it’s valuable to go under the radar,” Connolly said.

Although no students have contacted CURE to express interest in posted proposals, Connolly was confident that the initiative will gain momentum when term paper deadlines creep up.

Interested students can visit CURE’s web site at, or email

– with files from Shannon Kiely