One Way to Revitalize Communication Between Universities and Communities

Out today in Faculty Focus, Amanda Copkov and I propose that all universities start making a specific type of community engaged teaching (what we call “HyField” classes) a core offering for their students and as a way of building trust with their local communities. As we highlight:

“At a time when universities are under attack on multiple fronts, many point toward a need for publicly engaged scholarship to reframe adversarial agendas, tackle the perceived insularities of higher education, and build trust with communities. Some disciplines are already heavily invested or recovering their roots in publicly engaged research, promotion of “pracademic” models, and the necessary reforms to incentivize such work.

With community engagement often relegated to faculty members’ service or outside activities, these projects seek to shift public work to the center of scholarship. Although there is still progress to be made, universities can increase their engagement with the public by adopting and supporting their service to students and stakeholders. This can be done by supporting or adding community-engaged teaching in the form of HyField classes. . . .

Most university missions that we can find have some element of public service baked into their very wording. Community engaged “HyField” teaching provides one way to revitalize support for these missions and build bridges with people who have clearly lost connections to the outstanding work that faculty, staff, students, and administrators are carrying out every day within universities.

In the same way that the presence of local doctors can cut through the noise and increase citizens’ trust in getting vaccinated, the presence of local academics and their students in communities could make a substantial difference in creating understanding and justification for disciplinary work.”

You can read the rest here.