About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 6294-6302
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.0243

Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IN ACTION: WE ARE TO DO GOOD TO OUR COMMUNITIES

J. Penman, J. Thalluri

University of South Australia (AUSTRALIA)
Community engagement is defined as an involvement, interaction, and collaboration between groups of people for a specific purpose. Specifically relating to universities, it refers to the role the university plays within the community it serves. Universities have clearly addressed their teaching and research agenda, but community engagement has not received as much attention by comparison. It takes many forms and encompasses a broad range of undertakings. The potential benefits of engaging with communities include bridging the gap between “town and gown”, breaking down barriers, meeting needs, building resilient relationships, empowering individuals, and strengthening communities.

The purpose of this study was to examine the concept of community engagement and how this was addressed by academics from a South Australian university. Following the university’s positional statement of educating individuals to the highest standards, creating and disseminating knowledge, and engaging with communities to address contemporary issues, the authors paused and reflected on how community engagement was achieved at the staff level, what the benefits were and who were benefited, how community engagement materialised, and the lessons learnt in the engagement process.

Five examples of community engagement activities undertaken by the academics were highlighted. First was the “Preparatory workshops to sciences” to inform the community of how to approach the study of sciences to ensure successful transition to university. Second was “Partnering with rural communities to improve access and education in palliative care”, and third was the “University Experience Program” involving Year 10 school students to encourage increased university participation amongst regional students. The fourth example was a “Mental health comes alive” project where academics collaborated with the community by developing partnerships with mental health clinicians in teaching a mental health course. The final example was the “Health information sessions”, which were public information sessions conducted regularly to help empower community members to make decisions about their health.

Each of these activities was evaluated using post-intervention surveys. The data generated from the evaluations revealed the many benefits derived from university–community engagement from the perspectives of community members, students, staff and the university as a whole. Most important was the production of research outputs that improved the well-being and prosperity of communities. It was found also that positive outcomes were achieved when engagement was participatory, and when goals and objectives were clear. Commitment and collaboration were equally important, as well as being guided by the principles of service, transparency, trust, and respect.
@InProceedings{PENMAN2017COM,
author = {Penman, J. and Thalluri, J.},
title = {COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IN ACTION: WE ARE TO DO GOOD TO OUR COMMUNITIES},
series = {9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN17 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-697-3777-4},
issn = {2340-1117},
doi = {10.21125/edulearn.2017.0243},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2017.0243},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {3-5 July, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {6294-6302}}
TY - CONF
AU - J. Penman AU - J. Thalluri
TI - COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IN ACTION: WE ARE TO DO GOOD TO OUR COMMUNITIES
SN - 978-84-697-3777-4/2340-1117
DO - 10.21125/edulearn.2017.0243
PY - 2017
Y1 - 3-5 July, 2017
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN17 Proceedings
SP - 6294
EP - 6302
ER -
J. Penman, J. Thalluri (2017) COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IN ACTION: WE ARE TO DO GOOD TO OUR COMMUNITIES, EDULEARN17 Proceedings, pp. 6294-6302.
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