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Introduction: Knowledge in Action - First Steps to Systematising Community Engagement


Bartkowiak-Theron, I and Anderson, K, Introduction: Knowledge in Action - First Steps to Systematising Community Engagement, Knowledge in Action: University-Community Engagement in Australia, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, I Bartkowiak-Theron & K Anderson (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 1-17. ISBN 978-1-4438-6137-3 (2014) [Research Book Chapter]

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The images of the "ivory tower" and of black-robed academics professing theory in dark lecture halls are two of the most well-known (although not entirely accurate) factors that have prompted critiques of isolated and disconnected tertiary education and research throughout the world (Jones and Wells 2007; Winter, Wiseman, and Muirhead 2006). Past literature is punctuated with stories of universities treating communities as locations for fieldwork and potential pools of students, rather than as learning, teaching, or research partners, seeing them as "pockets of needs, laboratories for experimentation, or passive recipients of expertise" (Bringle and Hatcher 2002, 504).

Against this famously negative backdrop, the increasing example of academics working in the field and participating in community life is less well known. Now more visible, documented in organisational policy and international literature, and analysed by social commentators, universitycommunity engagement has become an integral component of academic work and a defined form of scholarship (Winter, Wiseman, and Muirhead 2006). Community engagement exemplifies the place and role of universities. It highlights their importance for local, national, and international communities and industries, taking the traditional university beyond a position as generator of workforce and creator of knowledge toward a community-engaged university as incubator of cultural and socio-economic vitality.

Engagement brings together community, industry, and public service inputs and marries them with the intellectual horsepower of the university. It posits the university not as an isolated agent of knowledge, generating and transferring information, but as a co-agent, working hand in hand with its partners. The greater outcome of the collaboration between university, wider society, and the economy for our societies is overwhelmingly positive (Howard 2005). It remains, however, less prominent than its research and teaching counterparts. There are several reasons for this.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Education systems
Research Field:Higher education
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Learner and learning
Objective Field:Higher education
UTAS Author:Bartkowiak-Theron, I (Associate Professor Isabelle Bartkowiak-Theron)
ID Code:95935
Year Published:2014
Deposited By:School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2014-10-13
Last Modified:2017-10-16

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