Newsletter

2018-2019 Chair's Welcome 
 

A welcome message from Deanna Kennedy 

September 28, 2018
Deanna Kennedy, Chair of Community Engagement Council and Associate Professor in School of Business

Welcome! As the new Chair of the Community Engagement Council I look forward to seeing what we accomplish this year. To begin, I want to thank all of the council members that have served on the Community Engagement Council and especially Dean Bruce Burgett for chairing the Council, your efforts have helped position UW Bothell in becoming renown for community engagement in research, teaching, and service. Building on these efforts, the Council will use this next year to explore what we can do better internally to enable those that want to involve communities in research, teaching, and service, and to consider what we can do externally to bring attention to our great work and showcase best practices for other universities. Our work will be guided by the following endeavors.

Carnegie Community Engagement Classification

We are currently in the midst of compiling and analyzing data for the Elective Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.  This is a recognition earned on the evidence-based documentation of institutional practice, but also serves a process of self-assessment and quality improvement for community engagement.  The documentation will be submitted in April 2019 after which a panel of reviewers will determine whether our institution qualifies for recognition as a community engaged institution. Our strategy has involved charging a Core Team with managing the process of documentation for our application and Working Groups to collect, analyze and summarize information to go into the documentation. The five Working Groups are addressing our institutional indicators, partnership strategy, faculty rewards including promotion and tenure, curricular and co-curricular integration, and assessment of community engagement. We aim to have a draft of our application this fall that can be circulated for internal and peer review.

As we continue along this process, the Working Groups and Core Team need everyone to be willing advocates, reviewers, and team players in order to ensure our application is the best we can make it. The Council will be integral in all of these capacities. However, the application is not the end. The Working Groups and reviewers will also be instrumental in identifying priorities, recommendations, strategic initiatives and action plans on which the Council can advise the Chancellor. Already the preliminary draft answers provided by Working Groups has led the Core Team to note gaps as well as opportunities for improvement in our resources for identification of community engagement, the accountability of community engagement activities, the recognition of community engagement in promotion and tenure, our assessment of community engagement impact, and more. Devising and communicating a plan about how we can be more intentional and systematic as an institution in community engagement activities as we move beyond the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification application will be a key priority for the Council.

Community Engagement Definitions

As we mature in our thinking about community engagement at UW Bothell, we need to make sure we are all on the same page about what community engagement is, and even, what (if any) boundaries encapsulate our target community. Interestingly, the academic literature poses some very disparate ways of identifying what “counts” as community engagement. Many institutions have relied on the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification application definitions, including the following (italics in original where used):

Community engagement describes the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial creation and exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.

The purpose of community engagement is the partnership of university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare an educated, engaged citizenry; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.

Community engagement describes activities that are undertaken with community members. In reciprocal partnerships, there are collaborative community-campus definitions of problems, solutions, and measures of success. Community engagement requires processes in which academics recognize, respect, and value the knowledge, perspectives, and resources of community partners and that are designed to serve a public purpose, building the capacity of individuals, groups, and organizations involved to understand and collaboratively address issues of public concern.

Community engagement is shaped by relationships between those in the institution and those outside the institution that are grounded in the qualities of reciprocity, mutual respect, shared authority, and co-creation of goals and outcomes. Such relationships are by their very nature trans-disciplinary (knowledge transcending the disciplines and the college or university) and asset-based (where the strengths, skills, and knowledges of those in the community are validated and legitimized). Community engagement assists campuses in fulfilling their civic purpose through socially useful knowledge creation and dissemination, and through the cultivation of democratic values, skills, and habits -democratic practice.

The descriptions above focus extensively on community engagement of a collaborative nature. While that certainly describes some partnership interactions, there may be more to consider. That is, there may be a more comprehensive and clearer definition of community engagement that acknowledges different levels and types of community engagement that vary in effort and expectations. For example, we might distinguish transactional types of community engagement that may have a lower level of collaborative effort and expectations, e.g., inviting a community partner as a speaker, mentor, reviewer, versus more transformational community engagement based on cooperation or collaboration, e.g., project sponsor or project collaborator. Moreover, partnerships are built over time. As such, it may be the progression through different types of community engagement that warrants attention. By clearly defining community engagement, we can then more effectively and strategically target what community engagement looks like at UW Bothell, how we enable and “count” different types of community engagement, and what we expect the different types of community engagement to achieve.

This year, the Council, as a representative and interdisciplinary body of faculty, students, staff and partners, will work to define community engagement and how to account for the different types of community engagement on campus. Taking on this task fits within the function of the Council to “be a communication mechanism to expand the range of university and community members informed about and involved with UW Bothell’s Community Engagement efforts (Community Engagement Council Charge Letter).”  Further, I think this is important work, not only for our own university but can blaze a trail for other institutions looking to clarify community engagement for their campus.

Strategic Recommendations and Big Ideas

The Community Engagement Council’s central purpose is to advise and assist the University of Washington Bothell in advancing its Community Engagement Mission (Community Engagement Council Charge Letter). That mission is provided below:

UW Bothell Community Engagement Mission Statement (Approved 2013): As a regionally accountable public university, the University of Washington Bothell is committed to building and sustaining institutional and community partnerships designed to enhance student success and the well-being and prosperity of the North Puget Sound and Washington State. Through a wide and varied network, our diverse students, faculty, staff, and administrative leadership focus on the goal of increasing the capacity of our region to identify and address local, national, and global challenges.

Over the year, using the information from the endeavors stated above, we will turn our attention to making strategic recommendations about community engagement at UW Bothell. I do think the knowledge gained from our work on the Carnegie application and community engagement definition will bear some low hanging fruit, however, I hope that the Council will also explore some big ideas. To spur richer conversations, the Council will be tasked with learning more about the practices and pursuits of other institutions – for example check out the depth and breadth of activities going on at our neighbor University of British Columbia, later in this newsletter. As well, the Council members will need to contribute information about community engagement priorities and goals of their own academic, institutional, or industry areas. The more we know about possibilities and preferences, the better we can achieve our purpose for our students, faculty, staff, community partners, and UW Bothell.