4 Comments on “Universities and civic engagement (Ronnie Munck and Lorraine McIlrath)”

  1. Al Says:

    Why does the University need re-invention as proposed here?
    One could argue that each euro that goes into such a programme is a euro taken from the civic society outside the campus.

  2. A key aspect of civil engagement that is largely missed in this country is the idea of Open Educational Resources. So much of the pedagogy of the university is built around lectures – these should be, in their entirely, available online. The taxpayers have paid for them, they should have access to them. That step alone would put a large window in the wall of the Ivory Tower.

  3. Perry Share Says:

    You’ll be glad to know that not everybody missed out on this sentence in Hunt – myself and colleagues Mark Taylor and Tamsin Cavaliero here at IT Sligo used it as the jumping off point for a presentation on ‘Practitioner-based research’ that we made recently.

    We made the point that a greater level of real ‘engagement’ with the ‘community’ (and both of these terms are highly negotiable and contentious) inevitably challenges the nature and uses of knowledge: particularly as ‘real world’ (or practice) and ‘academic’ knowledge begin to rub up against each other.

    As the authors of this post point out, such engagement ‘promotes democracy and wider participation, questions, and encourages investigations into the prevailing status quo, as well as helping to develop participatory approaches to research practice’. What might this mean in practice? For example it will mean greater involvement by ‘communities’ in research that impacts on them; demands for greater external oversight of research; a stronger focus on the audience(s) for research and how to communicate with (not ‘to’) them; and challenges to the very epistemologies within which many academics operate.

    This is going to impact on research at all levels – from first year to doctoral and post-doctoral level. It will have to be reflected in how research is funded (changes to assessment criteria) and monitored (changes to impact metrics). It will also have the capacity to change the public perception of research.

    All of this will involved a real challenge to the status quo, which probably means that the statement in Hunt will be quietly shelved. But even its emergence into public discourse has the capacity to feed into a debate about what research is for, what are its impacts, who gets to conduct it, and why?

  4. Deiric Ó Broin Says:

    It is great to see a discussion about the potential impact of civic engagement programmes on the role of Irish HEIs. The points made by Ronnie and Lorraine need to be supported and articulated within all HEIs. Having spent a considerable period of time working with local communities on behalf of a university I am delighted to see that the it appears that the growing links between HEI teaching and reach activities are being recognised. Whether it is social scientists employing emancipatory research methodologies or technologists, scientists and engineers explaining what they do to the wider society, civic engagement has contributed to the breaking down of barriers between ‘town and gown’. As both Ronnie and Lorraine acknowledge we are latecomers to the area but we have developed and continue to develop innovative and locally-meaningful initiatives. In DCU’s case, the recently instituted President’s Award for Civic Engagement has seen these receive the recognition they deserve in a manner similar to the President’s Awards for Teaching and Research.

    With regard to the point made about civic engagement programmes somehow taking money from local civil society organisations, my experience has been the opposite. By engaging with their local university local civil society organisations have been able to access resources, expertise and support that has enable them to devise funding applications they would never have normally considered, leverage funding through their partnership with the local university and devise and implement coherent strategic plans. Not once in 12 years have I come across a situation whereby funding provided for civic engagement activities meant less money for local civicl society organisations.

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