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.
borrowing from Randi's parting words (if you don't mind me quoting you Randi) it felt like we were part of a revolution today! this is a most interesting group of people to be working with and i think we opened up some interesting doors of conversation.
as you say chris, it's all about invitation into each others worlds. here are some further thoughts on co-learning and reflection from CRCP at MIT:
CRCP is organized on the belief that this process begins when individuals and groups are able to use reflection to bring conscious attention to the examination and improvement of their practice as community and social justice leaders. Reflective practice permeates all aspects of the work by CRCP. Reflection enables community practitioners¹ capacity to respond to complexity in deeply introspective ways, by discouraging impulsive theory building. It seeks to change mindsets, and give practitioners tools for trans-formation, in the areas of technology, economic development, and community empowerment. CRCP believes that for struggling communities to create wealth and empowerment in the new information and knowledge economy, it is of paramount importance for the tacit knowledge embedded in the practice of community leaders and residents to be articulated, scrutinized, shared and elaborated.
Second is the development of technologies and media that support the capture, storage, integration, sharing, and management of the knowledge that resides in communities. The growing complexity and diversity of urban communities presents a multitude of ways of knowing. From narrative accounts to storytelling, to visual representations to audio recordings of conversations and meetings, the task of capturing and integrating multiple ways of knowing is increasingly complex. In this digital age, sophisticated yet simple to operate digital tools offer new opportunities for individuals and groups to capture their own stories, narrative accounts, and knowledge. Developing tools for supporting collective story making, narrative sharing across language and literacy barriers, and tools for coding, archiving and managing the knowledge that resides in everyday actions has yet to be tackled. It is precisely this range of tools that will enable the disenfranchised to form their own knowledge capital.
Core to addressing these issues is the need for a research and development orientation to the work, so that every occasion of doing this work with communities is an opportunity for constructing knowledge out of experience. The knowledge that we build through our learning partnerships with communities will itself be captured, scrutinized, and shared with students, faculty, and the wider field of social justice and urban planning practitioners. The tools that are developed to further both our reflective practice and knowledge-capture work will be evaluated, refined, and brought to varying contexts. Because of the Center¹s mission to bring new tools and practicies to communities, as well as to bring the knowledge of communities to bear on the preparation of urban planning students, research and inquiry are at the core of our model for understanding and advancing our work.
Through our R&D orientation and long-term community partnership strategy, CRCP is uniquely positioned to pursue a number of goals related to the education of future leadersin the field of urban planning, in addition to advancing the field of community building, through advancing systematic research, of the use of reflection to build understanding of community practice and articulate tacit knowledge, as well as extending social inquiry methods that build learning relationships among diverse community, foundation and academic constituents.