Increasingly, universities are addressing the complex issues we face here in Canada and around the world by engaging with key stakeholders outside of the academy. This engagement often takes the form of mutually beneficial partnerships that produce and apply knowledge. For the faculty involved, this means applying their expertise to real-world problems and collaborating with peers in other sectors who also bring their knowledge and wisdom to the table — a practice known as community-engaged scholarship (CES). For most universities, however, the incentives and supports needed for faculty to engage in this way are not in place across the campus. In particular, the system in place at most universities for faculty career advancement (promotion, tenure and faculty development) has not kept pace with changing faculty roles. For example, the system often rewards faculty more for publishing a paper in an academic journal than for contributing to meaningful change such as improving public education, revitalizing rural economies or expanding access to affordable housing.
Our partnership is comprised of eight universities and an international organization that have pledged to work together to change university culture, policies and practices in order to recognize and reward CES. Our overarching goal is to realize the potential of universities to improve the quality of life for all Canadians through CES.
Our objectives are to:
- Establish a learning community around institutional change strategies, policies and practices that support and advance CES
- Ensure that university tenure and promotion policies and practices recognize and reward CES
- Implement and evaluate innovative mechanisms for developing community-engaged faculty
- Establish a vibrant, sustainable network of universities that support and advance CES
Each university partner has charged a team to lead activities on campus that advance our shared goals. A Partnership Governance Committee, comprised of representatives of each partner organization, meets regularly to report on progress and address shared challenges. Work groups focus on issues that cut across the partnership: scholar development, faculty assessment, and institutional assessment and change. As the partnership grows, we envision a higher educational system in Canada that truly embraces CES and fully realizes its potential.
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