July 2022 Leadership Forum: The Goals of a 21st Century Engaged University – Wrap up

July 2022 Leadership Forum: The Goals of a 21st Century Engaged University – Wrap up

The 2022 Engagement Australia signature Leadership Forum themed The Goals of a 21st Century Engaged University saw 40 senior university leaders come together in Canberra last month to hear from an esteemed panel of experts about how the cultural and social goals of a 21st century engaged university needed to change in our post pandemic society.

Professor Jessica Vanderlelie, Deputy Vice Chancellor, La Trobe University provided some powerful opening remarks to Leadership Forum participants highlighting the fact that a new focus on engagement, as articulated by UA’s Chair and Vice-Chancellor, La Trobe University, Professor John Dewar AO, was needed now more than ever, to address societal challenges in our post-pandemic society.   She argued that the pandemic had shown that Australian universities had risen to the challenge of existing for a social purpose where learning can transform lives in a post pandemic world of uncertainty and instability.

The Hon. Verity Firth Pro Vice Chancellor, UTS, reported on the hugely successful pilot of the US-based Carnegie Community Engagement Classification in Australia which was enabling Australian universities to shape their goals around their civic purpose through the creation and dissemination of socially useful knowledge, and through the cultivation of democratic practice.  In launching the new Australian Carnegie Community Engagement Classification system (now in place under the auspices of Engagement Australia) Professor Firth linked with EA’s international partner Professor Marisol Morales, Executive Director for the Carnegie Engagement Classifications, American Council on Education.  Marisol’s presentation is provided below:


Emeritus Professor Sharon Bell AM argued critically that the goals of the 21st Century University must focus on the groundwork that has already been laid by the pandemic and post-pandemic evolution of our institutional values and scholarly and professional practices that represent a pinnacle of civic achievement upon which we must build.  She stated that during the pandemic, universities had time to reflect on the direction and strategy of their engagement practise and were only growing in their desire to cultivate reciprocal partnerships with their communities through amazing work despite the many critical challenges.  Her critique of the notion of ‘civic washing’ by universities is included below:

‘Civic Washing’ by Professor Sharon Bell AM

The Leadership Forum also launched the 2022 Engagement Australia Excellence Awards, nominations for which closed this week. Now in its third year after transitioning from the Business-Higher Education Round Table (BHERT) Awards, the Engagement Australia Excellence Awards celebrate the most exciting and impactful engagement activities undertaken by the Australian and New Zealand Higher Education sectors.