The Incubation Model of University-Community Relationships: A Case Study in Creating New Programs, New Knowledge, and New Fields of Practice

Lois Gander


Universities in Canada and elsewhere are recognizing the importance of being more engaged with their communities. Indeed, the president of the University of Alberta made engaging with external communities one of the cornerstones of her vision for the institution. So how are universities meeting this challenge? In his book, Managing Civic and Community Engagement, David Watson laments the dearth of scholarly attention paid to the practice of civic engagement by universities (Watson, 2007). In this article, I discuss the university community partnership between the Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta, and the Legal Resource Centre of Alberta Ltd., which began more than 30 years ago. Both a success story and a cautionary tale, the case study helps to define a little-discussed model of university community engagement and to expose some of its strengths and limitations. It is useful in advancing both the theory and the practice of university-community engagement.

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