Author: Paul Benneworth Date: 16 February 2011 Impact Report
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Universities and community engagement: learning with excluded communities
There is increasing expectations on universities to engage with the local communities in which they exist. To earlier emphases on business engagement has been added a rising growing expectation that universities will help socially-excluded communities to adapt to the demands of the knowledge economy. This expectation is based on several partly contradictory visions of universities:
- Democratic communities where equals negotiate democratically and reflectively;
- As private businesses selling services competitively in global markets, and;
- As governmental instruments serving wider social purposes.
This project explores the practical ways these theoretical tensions are playing out in the way universities are engaging with a number of socially excluded communities. Central to the research is the idea that what unifies all three visions of a university is that the university is a learning community, and reach out need bring socially excluded actors into these learning communities as full participants.
The research will explore concrete university projects - in poorer British regions and nations – actively involving socially excluded groups. The focus will be how this is developing new learning and knowledge capacities in socially-excluded participants, using detailed place-based qualitative studies of communities engagement and co-evolution with universities’ own engagement activities.