A new web platform has been launched to support the greater societal impact of higher education through fostering mutually beneficial partnerships between universities and their communities. The platform www.community-engagement.eu provides universities, policymakers and other stakeholders with access to good practices, self-reflection and action-planning tools, policy recommendations and networking opportunities related to connecting universities and their surrounding communities. The platform features resources from 10 countries and is open to new content from users around the globe.
There are increasing demands for universities to open up to society and demonstrate their societal impact. Community engagement, a concept that refers to mutually beneficial partnerships between universities and their external communities (encompassing public, business and civil society sectors) is crucial for achieving such societal impact. However, universities that wish to become more community-engaged often lack tools and support for planning such activities and policymakers require clearer definitions of community engagement, its dimensions, benefits and policy options.
The Community-Engagement.eu platform responds to these needs by developing a range of new resources that can be used by universities, policymakers and community stakeholders. Developed as part of the Erasmus+ funded project Steering Higher Education for Community Engagement (SHEFCE), which aims to contribute to increasing community engagement of European universities, the platform features a range of resources that allows users to:
- Search for university profiles around Europe that have carried out institutional self-reflections and actions plans for community engagement
- Search for good practices in community engagement, according to academic field or dimension of engagement
- Use self-reflection and action-planning tools for community engagement in higher education
- Consult policy recommendations for system-level support for community engagement in higher education from 5 European countries, as well as reports and
Universities, policymakers and communities are invited to actively co-create the content of the platform by sharing their own community-engaged practices and resources, and by connecting to the existing network of engaged institutions.