The CREATE Project 

Exploring the Transformative Potential of Socially Accountable Research Networks, Locally and Globally

Social Accountability has become an influential value and movement within medical and health professional education, but its potential extends far beyond the process of training health care professionals to be more connected with the societies and communities they serve. The practice of research itself – its methods, activities, collaborations, and networks – is also in need of reimagining and reform to become more socially accountable.

From 2023 to 2030, researchers at the Dr. Gilles Arcand Centre for Health Equity (formerly the Centre for Social Accountability) at NOSM University—led by Academic Director, Dr. Erin Cameron—will undertake The CREATE Project.

By collecting and sharing best practices, scaling socially accountable research projects across new sites and settings, and building capacity for the ongoing application of socially accountable research, The CREATE Project will seek answers to the fundamental question: How can those who undertake research, across various disciplines and settings, become more connected and accountable to those they are obligated to serve? How can we pursue the goal of health equity through the formation of research practices and networks where social accountability is a core value?

“Social accountability as a research movement is still largely under-studied. This project will explore the transformative potential of a socially accountable research network for fostering partnerships and institutional change. NOSM University—and its many strong institutional and organizational partnerships across Northern Ontario, in Canada, and around the world—are collectively primed to lead this work,”
~ Dr. Erin Cameron.


Research in


Advocacy, and system

Transformation for advancing health



Funded by NOSM University and a highly-competitive Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Partnership Grant, this project will be co-directed by the Centre’s Dr.  Cameron (NPA) and Dr. Alex Anawati, alongside Drs. Joseph LeBlanc (NOSM University Associate Dean, Equity and Inclusion) and David Marsh (NOSM University Associate Dean, Research, Innovation and International Relations).

Medical education is being transformed around the world.

Key to this transformation is the social accountability movement, which encourages medical schools to direct their education, research, and service activities towards addressing the priority health concerns of the communities they serve, both locally and globally. In response to the global health equity crisis, socially accountable medical education provides an upstream policy strategy that is emphasizing the value of programs that advance the health and wellbeing of the people and communities they serve. Early evidence shows that socially accountable medical schools have more educational partnerships (i.e., community placements), more graduates who are likely to stay and serve underserved communities, and greater positive impacts on local economies.

While social accountability has been identified as a powerful paradigm shift in medical education, social accountability as a research movement is still largely under-studied.

To date, social accountability literature has been mostly defined in terms of institutional, educational, and graduate outcomes, and there is a notable lack of specific research structures that can support strengthening academic-community partnerships. The goal of this project is to explore the transformative potential of a socially accountable research network for fostering sustainable academic-community partnerships and institutional change.

The CREATE Project brings together researchers, educators, administrators, policy makers, institutions, and organizations from across Canada and beyond to both study and contribute to the development of a social accountability research movement. With growing calls for research institutions to respond to complex societal problems, CREATE will support a Canadian-led and globally connected research network that will create a body of knowledge that is greater than the sum of its parts, and distinct from similar projects undertaken in an unconnected fashion. Guided by principles of trust, respect, reciprocity, diversity, equity, and inclusion, the CREATE team will engage a collective impact approach to:


Generate and mobilize knowledge

of socially accountable research structures and processes across different contexts, cultures, and communities.


Facilitate the scaling and impact

of socially accountable research projects and approaches across new sites and new settings.


Build capacity

for researchers, administrators, educators, policy-makers, and communities for the ongoing application of socially accountable research.

In our ever-changing present, we need community-based, systems-focused, and sustainable solutions for addressing wicked societal problems. Socially accountable research has a vital role to play in this effort, and for ensuring our communities are supported by academic institutions. NOSM University, along with its many strong institutional and organizational partnerships across Northern Ontario, in Canada, and around the world, are collectively primed to lead this work towards advancing and evaluating the transformative potential of socially accountable research.

Stay in touch - there's more to come.

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