Engaged Scholars: Shoshanah Inwood

News — March 7, 2024

Engaged Scholars: Shoshanah Inwood

March 2024

Engaged Scholars is a series highlighting Ohio State faculty who have made an impact in our communities through their community-engaged research and teaching. Shoshanah Inwood is pictured on the left.

Shoshanah Inwood
Associate Professor of Community, Food, and Economic Development
School of Environment and Natural Resources/College of Food. Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

I am a rural sociologist and associate professor of community, food and economic development in the School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) with a 60% Extension, 30% research, 10% teaching appointment. I am stationed at the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Wooster Campus, where I co-direct the Center for Community and Working Landscapes. I engage in applied research to inform and stimulate local, state and national programs and policies designed to improve the social well-being on farms with a focus on how access to affordable quality childcare and health insurance affects economic development and quality of life in the farm sector. I also use an engagement and asset-based development model to help organize, empower and facilitate local community led food and agriculture economic development projects with a focus on Wayne County, Ohio.

Why is it important to engage the community in your research and teaching?

As land-grant university scientists, our job is to work on complex problems that are not black and white. We can talk about theoretical solutions that work in an ideal world. However, often the hardest part of applied research is the last mile of implementation and adoption. Grant funding comes and goes, for lasting change to occur, research has to be done in partnership with a community, where individuals and organizations recognize their own assets, feel they have ownership over the project and see our work together as a partnership.

What led you to the path of engaged scholarship? How did you get started?

After college I was a beginning farmer in rural Ohio working two part-time jobs off the farm while hauling vegetables an hour and a half to market, and learned a lot about what it means to make living from agriculture in rural Ohio. Those experiences have shaped my career and helped me realize how important it is to understand the myriad of individual and community perspectives and experiences.

How has your scholarship benefited from engaging with community partners?

Engaging with community partners creates higher quality research that can be impactful in both the academic realm and in the policy and decision-making realm.

What has been a highlight of your community engagement experience?

In 2022, I was invited to testify at a U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on the rural care economy. It was an honor to bring the voices and perspectives of thousands of farmers across the country struggling to access affordable quality childcare and health insurance to the halls of Congress. I then worked with Senator Sherrod Brown to design the Expanding Childcare in Rural America (ECRA) Act of 2023 Farm Bill marker bill - which was introduced on the same day in the House and Senate with bi-partisan support. This is the first time childcare has been a part of the Farm Bill - and represents the responsibility and power of the land-grant university to work in communities to improve the lives of our constituents.

What advice would you give to faculty and students who are interested in engaging the community in their scholarship?

Start by listening rather than talking, it is critical to build honest, trusting relationships with community members before developing specific research questions. Also recognize one voice does not speak for every individual within the community and it is important to reflect on who is not at the table. Recognize this can be a slow process and setbacks are inevitable, patience and persistence will get you further in the long run.

Sample Engaged Scholarship

Center for Community and Working Landscapes

Zieminski, A., Friedman, D., Heleba, D., Inwood, S.M., and J. Parker. 2023. "Resilient Farmers, Ranchers and Communities: Social Sustainability in Agriculture". The USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) series Opportunities in Agriculture Series. 44pp. www.sare.org/social-sustainability

Becot, F.A. and S.M. Inwood. 2020. The Case for Integrating Household Social Needs and Social Policy into the International Family Farm Research Agenda. Journal of Rural Studies. 77: 185-198. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2020.05.005.

Becot, F. and S.M. Inwood. 2023. Childcare in Agriculture: Key for Childrens Safety and the Economic Viability of Farm and Ranch Businesses. 2023 National Farm Families Childcare Survey Findings Research Brief #1. National Childrens Center for Injury and Prevention, National Farm Medicine Center, and The Ohio State University.

Pippidis, M., Braun, B., Ketterman, J., Inwood, S.M., Wright, N. 2022. Engaging Communities Through Issues Forums: A How-To Guide for Onsite and Online Community Engagement. Kansas City: Extension Foundation. ISBN: 978-1-955687-09-6

Inwood, S.M., Rumble, J., Meeks, S., and V.R. Hayden. 2023. Engaging, Empowering, and Evaluating Farm to School Projects with Photovoice. Journal of Agriculture Food Systems and Community Development. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2023.124.014