Guided by strategic research themes—“innovative learning,” “thriving organizations,” and “sustainable communities, livelihoods and the environment”—RRU integrates applied research and student learning, advancing the university’s mandate. Key to the realization of this integrated approach is the production of applied knowledge. This entails a curriculum that is solution oriented and real-world focused, developed and guided by research conducted by faculty, students, and staff. Research is highly interdisciplinary, and often transdisciplinary, involving stakeholders integrally in its design and implementation. Students gain much of their knowledge, practical skills, and experience through applied research and action learning, through research projects, case studies, and other learning activities. The tremendous value of these competencies lies not only in their response to global, national and community-based problems, but also in their inherent capacity to transfer seamlessly to organizational settings.
Research at RRU responds to and seeks to address critical issues of our time. Engagement with stakeholders and communities is a defining feature. Social and environmental justice as well as responsiveness guide the university’s research, and its relevance is evident in the mobilization and transfer of knowledge beyond traditional academia into the public sphere.
Sustainable communities, livelihoods and the environment as a research theme focuses on resilience, diversity, development, vitality, and the ability to innovate and adapt. Arguing that a vital community is one that can thrive in the face of change, research explores ways for communities to make the most of their ecological, social, cultural, and economic capitals. Research considers livelihoods and wellbeing of individuals, communities and societies. Examining assets—natural, physical, human, financial and social, mediated by institutional and social relations, research seeks ways to enhance them. Incorporating multiple perspectives at global, national, and local levels, the theme explores multidimensional understandings of how systems—social, political, environmental (natural and built), and economic—intersect and influence each other.
Innovative learning as a research theme focuses on learning that creates opportunities to generate knowledge and to empower. Research explores models of knowledge generation and dissemination, ways of knowing and learning, participatory learning, emerging technologies, reflective engagement, and qualitative and transformative inquiry. The theme considers learning at the level of society and organizations, as well as the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Thriving organizations as a research theme focuses on the spectrum of development in organizations, systems and sectors, and how these adapt, innovate and lead with a vision of the future. Research explores human and operational dimensions, seeks to foster individual and organizational capabilities, and considers communication a fundamental enabling process. From a local to global context, research examines leaders, leadership, and divergent accountabilities. The theme also explores issues such as resiliency, responsibility, stakeholder engagement, design, strategic planning, change, and diversity.