- About Us
- Community Partners
What is Community Engagement
What is Community Engagement?
What is community engagement? While there are many definitions, in its simplest terms, community engagement at Oklahoma State University seeks to build long-term partnerships between OSU and community organizations and individuals. These collaborations focus on achieving long-term sustainable outcomes and relationships that benefit all partners involved.
More specifically, OSU endorses the following definition of community engagement from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching:
“The collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in the context of partnership and reciprocity. It can involve partnerships and coalitions that help mobilize resources and influence systems and serve as catalysts for initiating and/or changing policies, programs, and practices.”
Community engagement is generally considered a framework of principles, strategies, and values. This framework includes the following points:
• Respect for the right of all community members to be informed, consulted, involved, and empowered in decisions and actions that affect their lives.
• Acknowledgment of every university’s responsibility to improve lives, especially in the communities in which the university resides.
• Recognition that universities and off-campus communities frequently share many goals, but often have distinctly different resources and knowledge to achieve them with.
• Understanding of the value of resources developed away from academic environments.
• Focus on efforts that build on each partner’s unique resources to accomplish ends neither can on their own.
• Commitment to trust as a critical element of long-term, sustainable, mutually beneficial partnerships.
The community engagement framework described here may be broadly applied across disciplinary, institutional, and geographic settings. As used here, for example, “community” refers to groups of people that share a common characteristic such as an interest, experience, goal, or geographic location. A community partner may therefore be defined by its geographic location (community of place), main interest (community of practice), goal (community of action), or demographic characteristics (community of identity).
Community engagement is therefore a strategic, intentional process focused on working with groups of individuals to identify and address issues affecting their well-being. Adding the term “community” to “engagement” broadens the scope of university partnerships, demonstrating a commitment to inclusiveness and a recognition of the impact that university research can and should have on residents’ lives.