Faculty and Community Engagement

Title of Proposal

Faculty and community engagement through a university wide food security partnership model.

Presenter Name(s)

Dr. Connie H. Nelson, Dr. Mirella Stroink

Abstract

This research focuses on an effective model for the development of community engaged scholars within an interdisciplinary and themed approach in a higher education context. To-date, more attention has been focused on student and community impacts of community engagement. This research broadens the understanding of how faculty interests and motivations shape competencies required for excellence in community engagement. The focal points are first to describe the partnership model and its grounding in complexity theory; and secondly to explore through case examples the impact that this approach to community engagement has on faculty careers in the areas of pedagogy, graduate student supervision, and research. The five dimensions of the community engagement partnership model – context-based, web of networks, fluid process, vision and strange attractors – create some unique features of our delivery mechanism for a food security theme approach. Each dimension is investigated through case illustrations for core areas of teaching, research and graduate student supervision. A few illustrations follow. For example, for the dimension context-based in the area of pedagogy means the instructors remain autonomous in developing their own particular relationships with the community and in facilitating creative ways for their students to engage with the community. Being context-based, the instructor is intimately involved in the ‘messiness’ of community engagement and is better able to bring community knowledge back into the classroom. In other words, a faculty member interacts with the community, learns from the community, brings this knowledge back into the classroom and ensures this community knowledge base continues on when the course is offered again for a new group of students. Faculty can engage more deeply with community and recognize community as coeducators. Another example of the partnership dimension – web of networks- in the area of research is that community engagement broadens the utilization of research approaches and methodologies as well as evolves distinct types of research questions. Our findings to date reveal that knowledge appears to be profoundly learned within context and raises challenges to a more traditional positivistic university oriented approach to knowledge transmission.



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