The Porous University : re-thinking community engagement
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This primary goal of this concept paper is to stimulate a conceptual re-think around the nature of community engagement in higher education. The paper outlines the evolution of community engagement. It questions some of the ideological rhetoric of this term whereby the university is presented as a collaborative partner and co-creator of knowledge, particularly through strategies such as service-learning. It highlights issues of power relationships, ownership of the engagement process and knowledge generation. The paper offers a theoretical framework for community engagement, drawing on the capabilities approach, asset based community development and dialogue. The framework is then presented as a diagram which can be used as an evaluative tool for assessing how metaphorically porous university boundaries are to facilitate a more mutually accessible relationship between community and university. In this way, the engagement relationship can build on community assets, rather than following a deficit model of intervention which is premised on community need.
Preece, J. 2016. The Porous University : re-thinking community engagement. Alternation. 23(1): 208-232.