An Australian framework for university-community engagement
Universities are gathering in Bathurst this week to develop a uniquely Australian approach to foster mutually beneficial collaborations between universities and the community.
The forum is the next stage in a national pilot of the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. Co-lead by UTS and Charles Sturt University, the pilot will develop a framework for an Australian context to demonstrate universities’ commitment to their communities and share good practice.
We are joined in this endeavour by Australian Catholic University, CQUniversity Australia, Curtin University, Flinders University, Southern Cross University and the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Each of these participating universities bring distinct institutional strengths to the table, and represent engagement with diverse communities in metropolitan and regional centres across the country.
More universities have signed on as observers to the initial process and are expected to join the program when the Australian framework is finalised in 2020. They are: Swinburne University of Technology; Federation University Australia; the University of Sydney; the University of Tasmania’ Deakin University’ James Cook University’ University of Western Australia; University of New England, and; Edith Cowan University.
UTS’s Executive Director, Social Justice, Verity Firth, said “The opportunity to collectively forge an Australian community engagement classification through a world-leading framework is a game changer for higher education in Australia. Enhanced ability to benchmark, reward, incentivise and achieve scaled impact will enable and drive the critical mission of universities as institutions in service of society,” she said.
Professor Andrew Vann, Vice Chancellor of Charles Sturt University, said: “Being a lead university to participate in the first Australian trial of the Carnegie Classification is an institutional highlight for Charles Sturt University.
“This process will really help to lift our standards of community participation and engagement and in turn produce better outcomes for the communities in which we operate – which is core to the strategic vision of CSU.”
The Australian pilot will be coordinated nationally by the lead institutions with the support of Engagement Australia, through coordination and action research, and the international Talloires network. The Swearer Center at Brown University is the administrative and research home for the classification.
The Center’s Executive Director and Associate Dean of Engaged Scholarship Mathew Johnson said: “This international pilot project will enable us to develop partnerships and learning communities where we will exchange research, data, and best practices with partners around the world. We look forward to informing the US classification with this international knowledge, and to supporting local and regional cohorts in developing locally relevant versions of this classification framework.”
Professor Jim Nyland, Chair of Engagement Australia and Associate Vice-Chancellor of Australian Catholic University, said: “The nature and organisation of ‘engagement’ in Australian universities is diverse and multi-faceted; the challenge is to find unity in such diversity. Engagement Australia will coordinate an action research project in conjunction with pilot participants that will enable Australian universities to develop an evaluative and critical framework, provide a coherent focus for action, and demonstrate realities on the ground in their respective institutions that can be managed and developed.”