Brokering Community-University Engagement

TitleBrokering Community-University Engagement
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
Authorsand McNall, Miles RCSBRAA
JournalInnovative Higher Education

The authors argue that despite the fairly extensive literature on community-university partnerships, there is little research documenting the “empirical evidence regarding the benefits communities and universities enjoy as a result of engagement” (p. 328). They identify a second gap in the literature concerning the relationship between different partnership processes and positive partnership outcomes. Research into this area is needed, they argue to better support effective partnership practices. The authors identify five strands in the literature about community-university engagement: (1) universities defining or redefining their engagement missions; (2) community-campus partnerships as a means of enriching the educational experiences of university students (e.g., service learning and internships; (3) universities engaged in community development efforts in partnership with their surrounding neighborhoods; (4) university scholars and community members coming together to address issues of mutual interest (i.e., community-based research and service projects; (5) measurement of the characteristics and consequences of community–university partnership (e.g., group dynamics, degree of collaboration, etc) (p. 319). In this study, the authors are seeking to contribute to the latter strand. They do so by drawing on a theoretical framework articulated by Schulz (2003) that suggests environmental factors (for e.g. preexisting relationships between partners) influence the structural characteristics and group dynamics of the partnership (e.g. degree of formalization) and that these in turn relate to intermediate and outcome measures of partnership effectiveness (p. 320).