What is Community Engagement?

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The Ginsberg Center uses the term community engagement to describe any scholarly endeavor -- courses, research, service, or other learning experiences -- that puts community-defined needs at its center. 'Community-engaged' describes a hands-on experience within a community that has several key components:

  • Addresses societal needs not currently being fully met by other sectors
  • Produces reciprocal benefits for community partners, campus partners, and students
  • Intentionally integrates community-based needs and academic learning objectives
  • Prepares students for engagement and promotes ongoing reflection and/or critical analysis
  • Interrogates structures of inequality and questions the distribution of power
  • Supports the development of a lifelong commitment to civic engagement

Community partners are active participants in the process of identifying needs and developing appropriate interventions and projects to address these needs. Faculty, staff, and students work in collaboration with community partners to consider the impact on communities before, during, and after community engagement.

Community-engaged teaching, research and scholarship advances:

  • U-M's Mission:
    • As a public institution of higher education, U-M's mission calls faculty and staff to work in the service of the public good.
  • Your Public Impact:
    • This affordable housing graphic (accessible text-based version) shows how a single community-defined priority can lead to a variety of teaching, research, and learning opportunities. Starting from community-defined priorities does not limit the scope or focus of your research and teaching agendas; it expands and deepens your impact, as your ideas evolve in collaboration with community partners. It ensures that community voices are at the center of your work and that your public impact is aligned with what communities know about their own needs.
  • Student Learning & Development
    • Community-engaged teaching & learning is a high impact practice. Evidence shows that participation in these activities has the greatest positive impact on students' academic success, graduation rates, personal and interpersonal development, and other measures of learning (NSSE 2008).
  • Commitments to Civic Engagement & Social Change
    • Community-engaged scholarship engages faculty, staff, students, and community partners in broader civic and social engagement efforts, promoting a lifelong commitment to civic engagement

Examples of Community Engagement at UM

Faculty can work towards the university's mission of advancing the public good in many ways. Our approach is to always start from community-defined priorities, but the final outcome of a campus-community partnership can take many forms. The academic partners listed below are working to address a variety of community priorities. 

Collaborations within or between departments and across the university​

Course connections can involve part of or an entire course

Share specialized knowledge to support community partners or to co-create public products

Faculty conducting or advising community-engaged research can contribute new knowledge while supporting positive community impact

Faculty can support students they advise about community-engaged projects and internships

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For an accessible version of this image, please use this link: http://bit.ly/2wOXlAn