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What is Community Engagement?

Community engagement describes the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their communities (local, regional/state, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. (Adapted from the Carnegie Foundation and cited in the Glossary of Terms for GVSU’s Strategic Plan 2016 – 2021.)

Curricular and scholarly community engagement is an approach to teaching, learning, and/or research in partnership with those in the community who can bring experiential knowledge, skills, and other expertise to the problem, the research question, or learning goal being addressed. Each partner-university and community-makes a fair contribution of knowledge and resources and both benefit as a result.

Responding to the challenges facing both higher education and their urban communities, many universities have committed to community engaged teaching and scholarship. Faculty members at these institutions are pursuing academically relevant work in reciprocal relationships with community partners. Everyone benefits. Students who participate in engagement learn higher-level skills and tend to stay in school and graduate. Faculty research productivity is increased. The work attracts grant funding and appeals to NextGen and other university donors. At the same time, these partnerships enrich the vitality of the urban center in which a university resides.

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