First of all, we discussed the fact that the kind of community engagement (CE) we were talking about was in the context of university-community relations. In particular, we were interested in UBC’s unique role as a place where teaching, learning and research are partially informed by real worlds issues and immediate challenges. I think that we want UBC to sponsor an ethic, which says that addressing and responding to pressing social issues using democratic problem solving is our ethic. Vince talked about co-learning, appreciative inquiry, and dialogue as ideals in an action-oriented institution that balances education and advocacy. One of the things that I thought was especially interesting about this part of the conversation was that powerful and conservative departments and faculties (Medicine) can be advocates more easily than perhaps the weaker ones (Women’s Studies). We did add a bit of detail to what these community-university partnerships would have to involve including: planning tasks, conducting experiments, education, and strategizing. The broad questions that will be asked are something like what, so what, and now what?
I promised to look up University in Ruins. In this book, the author, Bill Readings suggests that the university has changed from "the primary institution of national culture in the modern nation-state" to a "bureaucratically organized and relatively autonomous consumer-oriented corporation." The idea is that education is a product, and students are consumers and it is all related to the fact the nation-state is losing power as the source of our identity. This is pretty interesting in relationship to the fact that global citizenship is being pushed here at UBC. Some have told me that the Academic Plan is currently being revisited in order to implement some of its original tenets. Readings solution is a bit like Martha P’s “educating global citizens who are politically, culturally, and socially aware. Universities; he opposes "unthinking participation in institutional-bureaucratic life." I think the point is to see what happens when “real issues” are the context for the work that is being done here, including students.
So our contribution to the truly engaged university would is to define this ideal called community engagement in terms of university-community relations meant. In Vince's words, we want to talk about a place where teaching, learning and research are enterprises completely informed by community engagement and democratic problem solving. This partnership between the university and the outside world will have to involve collaboratively planning, experimenting, educating, and strategizing. To get there we are going to ask broad questions like:
What is community engagement?
To what problem is community engagement the answer?
What are the conditions under which community engagement takes place?
What are research and learning objectives of the university that CE serves?
In terms of desired outcomes:
1. We need to lay out:
fundamentals of what it is criteria for what it is at its best organizing principles learning benefits changes sought outcomes we seek 2. The creation of a cheat sheet or report card of sorts that will be used to evaluate UBC's progress in that direction.
3. Develop a think piece - which will ask key questions that we will have people write to
4. Development of an educational module (provides example etc. that can be taken up into a given course.
In the mean time, we will do everything in our power to help UBC realize community engagement.