Transform: Issue 2 December 2017 | Re-imagining The Engaged University

Transform: Issue 2 December 2017 | Re-imagining The Engaged University

WELCOME – Engagement Reimagined

February newsletterIt is timely, amidst all the policy uncertainty and associated calls for greater relevance, that we situate this discourse within the inclusive frame of reimaging the engaged university. Indeed, these are changing times that necessitate new forms of scholarship and practice across our institutions. They are times where universities are scrambling to strategise their connectivity with industry and communities, vidence their impact whilst continually being clear on their point of difference in a fairly crowded marketplace for learners. The engagement agenda, in all its forms, has become the new lever for differentiation. As these drivers for change strengthen, we as universities are challenged to consider how to mobilise a deeper and more authentic engagement agenda within our own institutions, and through alliances such as Engagement Australia, the sector at large. In fact, that very reason was the genesis for the formation of Engagement Australia in 2003 by a group of visionary vice chancellors and senior leaders conscious of the civic imperatives for learning and research.

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In the landmark research and resultant publication, Watson et al’s (2011) The Engaged University, explored approaches to engagement that reflected the varying conceptions of citizenship by the institutions involved in the study. These conceptions are distinct at both individual and institutional scales and demand enabling strategies that respond to distinct drivers. The citizenship frame is powerful for considering how universities are to be re-imagined. While there are now a myriad of examples of fine engagement with communities of all kinds across a variety of research and learning configurations, challenging notions of democratising our institutions and embracing the core participatory ethos underpinning engagement remain elusive. To grapple with this challenge is to grapple with the essential elements of authenticity. And our students demand it. The power behind the notion of an engaged university lays in the articulation of the agenda itself. That is, the sum total of all the fine work taking place across our various activities and associated connections with communities. That is the engagement agenda. How we as innovative leading institutions of learning and research position the participation of individuals and organisations across the design and delivery of all our endeavours with a precise vision for impact is a question of strategy and thus engagement. The engagement agenda is a strategic driver for innovation and improvement, if we so choose it. Fundamentally, to reimagine engagement is to reimagine the university.

Summary of Articles

Article 1 – The Growing Role of the Research University in addressing Global Challenges
Professor Barbara Holland

Article 2 – Re-imagining the Engaged University as a Cultural Project
Professor Jim Nyland and Professor David Davies

Article 3 – Are our students ready? Preparing for Moments of Truth through Community Engagement
Associate Professor Billy O’Steen

Article 4 – Interview: Is it the Economy Stupid….or is it Culture, Identity and sharing the Vision?
Professor Margaret Gardner AO

Article 5 – VC’s Viewpoint: Community Engagement – is essential but be wary of the challenges
Professor Tim Brailsford

Article 6 – Director’s Viewpoint: Re-imagining the role of the Knowledge Broker
Ms Ros Hore

Article 7 – Pictorial Essays: MARCS BabyLab
Western Sydney University

Article 8 – Pictorial Essays: Art meets science for broader medical empathy
Flinders University

Case Studies: Snapshot of engagement activities
Southern Cross, Macquarie, Federation and Griffith University