Creating a Common Space for Community Engagement

Heather McRae


The increased interest in community engagement within higher education provides new opportunities for examining the role of university continuing education (UCE) units in relation to their participation in community university partnerships. This article is based on findings from a qualitative study that used a social theory lens to examine the perspectives and ideas of representatives from the university and the community relating to their experiences and interests in participating in collaborations in support of the social good. While the respondents from community-based research and community organizations identified few constraints affecting their involvement in these kinds of partnerships, the UCE study participants described a number of issues that affected their participation, such as an emphasis on revenue generation and the lack of organizational support for engagement. Considerations for supporting a common space for engagement involving UCE professionals include the development of a partnership model, the adoption of an asset-based approach, affiliations with national organizations and networks, seeking external visibility and recognition, and using social theories to guide the development of community engagement practices.

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