UBC Site Visit

Gathering Community Engagement Best Practices: A Visit to the University of British Columbia

selfie in front of ubc learning exchange

August 10, 2018 

As we think about how to grow community engagement opportunities at UW Bothell, we should take stock of the best practices and lessons learned from others. We are fortunate to have many neighboring institutions that can offer these types of insights. To summarize and bring in these insights, Deanna Kennedy (Incoming CE Council Chair, Kara Adams (CBLR Director), and Layla Taylor (CBLR Program Manager) visited the University of British Columbia (UBC)  this summer i order to interview and discuss community engagement programs across the campus. We visited four different offices at UBC:

Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL)

The purpose of CCEL is to support curricular and co-curricular community engagement programming. They have about 6000 students and 500 community partners involved in CCEL each year.

Best practice take away:

  • Instructors apply for courses to be considered community engaged, and there is a course assessment every 4 years.

Office of Community Engagement

This office focuses on external relations and broad community engagement strategies for the institution.

Innovative idea:

  • To better connect with different communities, the office invited community partners to a President’s community roundtable hosted by the President with Deans and relevant faculty attending as listeners. The roundtables cover topics such as opioid crisis, climate, and affordability.

Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, Community Engagement

Interestingly, the Irving K. Barber is a UBC library that embodies the commitment to community engagement. At the Learning Centre, there are a number of initiatives built on their work in reaching out to partners, consulting on projects and being a collaborator.

Innovated idea:

  • Strong focus on making research accessible, and grant funding to pay librarians to be responsive to community archiving and community research requests

UBC Learning Exchange 

The Learning Exchange is committed to building greater ties between the university and city communities. As such, it is located in downtown Vancouver where it can provide new approaches to learning for local residents, students, faculty, and organizations. The programs align with student programs and faculty interests to be a mostly volunteer organization.

Best practice take aways:

  • Place based building embedded in the neighborhood in order to stay aware and connected with local activities.
  • The programming offered responds to community identified needs around computer illiteracy, experiential learning integration, and community-based research integration, and trained students and community patrons as facilitators of these courses offered to the community. 

Written by Deanna Kennedy, Chair of Community Engagement Council