Reimagining the concept of a Commonwealth university

Budd Hall, UNESCO Chair in Community-Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education

Published July 2017

"What would the concept of a Commonwealth university really mean if we were to refer back to the original meaning for the common good? It would support the idea of the social responsibility of universities. It would support the concept of community university engagement for another. And it would align very closely with the objectives of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), wouldn't it?" Read more

Budd Hall

Systems of engagement

David Phipps, Executive Director, Research & Innovation Services, York University, Canada

Published July 2017 

Most writing on community-campus engagement focuses on individual projects and practices. This makes sense since most practices are employed at the project level, but what about systems of engagement? Individual projects sit within institutional and community systems. Institutions and communities sit within sector or regional/national systems. Where are these systems of engagement? Read more

David Phipps

Measuring research impact and engagement in Australia

Janette Bobis, Pro Dean Research, University of Sydney, Australia

Published 20 December 2016

The Australian government is designing a system for measuring and reporting universities' research impact, similar to the UK's Research Excellence Framework. Many working in Australian higher education are concerned about how the system will work – the ACU spoke with Janette Bobis from the University of Sydney to learn more. Read more

Sydney Story Factory

Not so slow on the uptake; lessons from the DRUSSA programme

Karrine Sanders, DRUSSA Programme Manager, ACU
Liam Roberts, Programme Officer, ACU

Published 15 November 2016 

The ACU-led Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA) programme sought to help universities in Africa improve their capacity to get key research evidence into use. As the programme draws to a close, Karrine Sanders and Liam Roberts reflect on its achievements and some of the key lessons learned. Read more.

A DRUSSA partner at the University of Mauritius discusses innovative agricultural techniques with local farmer

Student volunteering – an example from India

Dr Chinmay Pandya, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya, India
Prof Abhay Saxena, Professor and Head, Department of Computer Science, DSVV, India
Mr Kumar Rawal, Advisor, DSVV, India

Published 10 October 2016

The Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya (DSVV) university in Haridwar, India, arranges a student volunteering programme whereby students are obliged to spend a month on voluntary activities. This has proven to be beneficial for the university, the community, and for the students themselves. Read more

Students plan trees during their volunteering programme

Memorial University’s Battery Facility redevelopment project

Rebecca Cohoe, Communications Coordinator, Office of Public Engagement, Memorial University, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Published 23 August

Memorial University in Canada has a history of close links with the local community and they are aiming to further increase these links through their purchase of a building that has long been at the heart of local life – a hotel in need of renovation. Read more

Memorial University's newest aquisition

Using social media and new technologies to break world-changing research

Emma Gilmartin, Social and Digital Media Manager, University of Glasgow

Published 11 July

The University of Glasgow were part of a recent announcement of the discovery of Gravitational Waves. Emma Gilmartin explains how the university utilised a range of social media platforms to make sure the message reached a range of audiences. Read more

The image that explained gravitational waves to the public

Being part of a meaningful conversation

Stephen Khan, Editor, The Conversation UK

Published 16 June 2016

The Conversation is a website which commissions blogs from academics to engage with popular debates. Operating for several years now, they have Australian, US, French, British, and African sites and are looking to continuing to expand. In this blog, Stephen Khan, the editor of The Conversation UK explains how you can get involved. Read more

The Conversation brings academic opinions to the general public

Recognising faculty and students for community service

Gul Zehra, Manager of Publications and Communication, National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan

Published 26 April 2016

The National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) in Islamabad, Pakistan, handed out their first awards for community service in 2015. Gul Zehra explains how the institution is striving to embed social responsibility into university life and how the awards help to recognise and encourage this work. Read more

Miss Maria Majid receiving the best community service student award in November 2015

Social responsibility in action: the minds-on hearts-on and hands-on learning engagements of Kampala International University

Dr Novembrieta R Sumil, PhD, Director, Institute for Social Research, Kampala international University, Uganda

Published 17 March 2016

Kampala International University, Uganda is introducing a greater focus on social responsibility with a programme of direct interactions with the local population and staff across the institution. Dr Novembrieta Sumil, Director of KIU's Institute for Social Research, explains the work done in their 'Hands On, Hearts On, Minds On' project. Read more

Employability in local education participants

Train and Engage – UCL’s innovative approach to encouraging engagement

Neil Johnson, Member Engagement Coordinator, ACU

Published 5 February 2016

University College London has a number of initiatives to encourage staff and students to bring the public closer to their work. Neil Johnson from the ACU went to meet Masuma Mishu, a student who recently delivered an education programme in Bangladesh as part of her experience with the Train and Engage scheme, to find out more. Read more

A public engagement class in action in Bangladesh

Supporting English literacy learning with young deaf people in India, Ghana and Uganda

Dr Julia Gillen, Director, Lancaster Literacy Research Centre and Senior Lecturer in Digital Literacies, Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University, UK

Published 21 December 2015

Lancaster University is working with partners in India, Ghana and Uganda to develop English language training models for deaf learners in high poverty areas. Using innovative participatory research techniques, the teams have included the tutors and the learners in the design process with wide-ranging benefits to the work, the participants and the community as a whole. Read more


Responsible research and innovation: finding the right tools for public engagement

Dr Tomas Harber, DRUSSA Programme Coordinator, ACU

Published 10 December 2015

The practice of engaging with the community is relatively new one for many higher education institutions and the advice on which activities are most appropriate can often be bewildering. Dr Tomas Harber, Programme Coordinator for the DRUSSA programme, reflects on a recent conference where he uncovered a useful online tool for those looking to plan their next, publicly engaged, project. Read more


Care to participate?

Neil Johnson, Member Engagement Coordinator, ACU
(with thanks to Dr Tina Cook, Northumbria University, UK for advising on the content)

Published 27 November 2015

There are many varied forms of community engagement, each arising as academics wrestle with how best to engage the public with their research activities. Not satisfied with merely communicating the end results of research to the public, those engaging in participatory research seek to involve them throughout the research work itself. The ACU went along to a recent meeting of the UK Network for Participatory Research to find out. Read more


Five steps to research impact

David Phipps, York University, Canada

Published 27 October 2015

Knowledge brokering, the formation and support of community campus collaborations, is a key knowledge mobilisation method that helps to maximise the social and economic impacts of research. A recent article from York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit breaks that method down into five steps and showcases a new model for employing a community-based broker to boost partnerships. Read more


Community engagement and the refugee crisis

Professor Lorne Sossin, Special Advisor on Community Engagement and Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Canada
Jennifer Danch, York University, Canada

Published 27 October 2015

When forming York University’s new engagement strategy, Professor Lorne Sossin, Special Advisor on Community Engagement, found his focus drawn to the need to help those fleeing the crisis in Syria. In a guest blog for the ACU he and Jen Danch explain how the university is helping the refugees and how the students and staff are, in turn, learning from this experience. Read more


Challenging the existing research culture

Richard Holliman, Professor of Engaged Research, The Open University (OU), UK

Published 25 September 2015

In summer 2015 the Open University (UK) published the results of an Research Councils UK funded project to embed ‘engagement’ throughout the institution’s research culture, publishing the results of an extensive survey, a single definition of engagement and a guide to incorporating engagement in research projects. Richard Holliman explains how they undertook the project and his hopes for the future. Read more


GEPAT – after the research

Professor Aurelia N Kamuzora, Development Economist, Mzumbe University, Tanzania

Published 3 August 2015

Professor Aurelia N. Kamuzora, senior lecturer at Mzumbe University in Tanzania, undertook a research project to analyse the governance of natural resources by the rural communities of the Karagwe region of the country. As a result of this project, Aurelia co-founded the Green Education and Poverty Alleviation Trust (GEPAT). Read more


Connecting research, forging partnerships

Dr Paul Ivey, Associate Professor, and Martin Henry, Manager of Projects and Operations, School of Graduate Studies, Research and Entrepreneurship, University of Technology, Jamaica

Published 3 July 2015

For several years now, the University of Technology, Jamaica, the publicly-funded National University of Jamaica, has staged an annual “Research & Technology Day.” This year's event saw two research projects brought to the attention of ministers. Read more


Turning the tables

Neil Johnson, Member Engagement Coordinator, ACU, UK

Published 28 April 2015

The concluding session of the 2014 Talloires Leaders Conference sounded a rallying call for community engagement professionals around the world, asking the assembled delegates to do all that they could to 'influence the global higher education ranking systems to take civic engagement seriously as a university contribution to society'. This dream may become a reality sooner than expected. Read more


School Governors Initiative

Dr Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility, University of Manchester, UK, and Stephanie Lee, Head of Widening Participation and Outreach, University of Manchester, UK

Published 11 March 2015

The University of Manchester has received many plaudits for their school governor programme, encouraging and supporting staff and alumni to become governors for local schools. This has had an impact on the local community and on the university alike. Read more

University of Manchester SGOSS

Rec and Read mentorship programmes

Professor Joannie Halas, Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, University of Manitoba, Canada

Published 27 February 2015

The University of Manitoba’s Rec and Read programme, recently awarded the MacJannet Prize for citizenship and civic engagement, works with local indigenous communities to offer mentorship for young people and improve the university’s understanding of social determinants of health. Read more

Rec and Read

Engagement agenda in India goes live

Wafa Singh, Programme Officer, Participatory Research In Asia (PRIA) and India Coordinator, UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education, India

Published 13 February 2015

The Indian University Grants Commision’s decision to fund a Centre For Social Responsibility and Community Engagement may help promote the agenda in country, however it is not the only exciting new initiative which is driving forward Community-University Engagement. Read more

Indian engagement

DRUSSA annual conference explores implementation strategies

Liam Roberts, Programme Officer, DRUSSA, UK

Published 5 February 2015

The Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA) project team held their annual conference in December 2014. Liam Roberts, programme officer for DRUSSA, reports on the discussions from the event and looks ahead to the final year for the project. Read more


Wits Initiative for Rural Health Education

Ntsiki Mapukata Sondzaba, WiRHE Co-Ordinator, University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg, South Africa

Published 28 January 2015

The Wits Initiative for Rural Health Education (WIRHE) at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg supports medical students from disadvantaged local communities. The candidates are supported from application to graduation and beyond, returning to the community to provide a sorely needed health service. Read more

WIHRE Careers Day

Unpacking engagement

David Phipps, Executive Director, Research and Innovation Services, York University, Canada

Published 22 January 2015

University engagement is a like a chest of drawers. You can keep shoving stuff in there but at some point you can’t find anything. You need to unpack it and organise it to maximise the value. Read more

The Engagement 'Chest of Drawers'

The ACU Engage Community goes live

Neil Johnson, Member Engagement Coordinator, ACU, UK

Published 9 December 2014

The ACU Engage Community was unveiled in South Africa on 4th December 2014. At the launch event, diverse ACU members discussed their projects and debated how to increase the impact of Community Engagement programmes. Read more


The Phoenix Project

Professor Judith Hall, Personal Chair of Cardiff Institute of Infection & Immunity, Cardiff University, UK

Published 8 December 2014

Cardiff University is working alongside the University of Namibia to deliver the Phoenix Project, a multidisciplinary scheme to develop the health infrastructure of rural Namibia. By forming a strong partnership with UNAM, staff at Cardiff are able to reach communities that they would otherwise be unable to work with. Read more


Academia and government open channels of collaboration at DRUSSA symposia

Tom Harber, Project Coordinator, DRUSSA, UK

Published 4 December 2014

The ACU is lead partner in the Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA) project which has recently brought together civil servants and academics from Ghana and Uganda to discuss ways of improving relations and fostering productive dialogue between the two groups. Read more

How can universities champion their contributions to wider society?

Paul Geswindt, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa

Published 26 November 2014

For over a century universities have focussed on the creation of knowledge, however in the past few decades this focus has begun to shift. There are many forces driving this process forward, and many questions to answer and challenges to face. Read more

How can universities champion their contributions to wider society?

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