Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement (CFICE)

  • By Team #C2UExpo
  • 25 Apr, 2017

Written by Kelly Greenfield (Memorial University of Newfoundland). Kelly is part of the Community Jam Students Program.

Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement (CFICE) provides tools and research on community-first approaches to partnership work that builds healthier, more just and sustainable communities. For CFICE, being community-first means engaging in equitable partnerships to co-create knowledge and plans for addressing pressing community issues.

In Phase I, CFICE worked in community-driven demonstration projects to test community-first approaches to community-campus engagement (CCE). The goal was to study how community and campus players work together to create meaningful change, and how to optimize the value generated for community partners.

In Phase II, CFICE aims to share the information learned to help improve future CCE partnerships. They are doing this through five working groups, one of which is: Aligning Institutions for Community Impacts. This working group will tackle three main projects, including the development of a Canadian community engagement classification system that post-secondary institutions (PSIs) can use to self-assess the extent to which they align with a community-first ethic.

So far, they have learned that it is more appropriate in the Canadian CCE movement to talk about ‘culture change’ in higher education rather than institutionalization. Culture change in this context is the process of authentically and holistically embedding an ethic of CCE into the practices of PSIs (governance, resources, and activities). In other words: culture change happens when people in an institution change their beliefs, behaviours and attitudes – and thus relevant programs, policies and processes. Institutionalization, on the other hand, is about changing structures, like communication channels, hierarchy structures, and institutional mandates. The working group also learned that a tool to assess culture change has to assess it on a continuum that represents the multi-directional flow of knowledge and expertise between communities and PSIs.

Next steps related to this initiative include in-depth interviews with key informants and a 60-minute workshop on CCE assessment in the Canadian context, which will take place Thursday, May 4th at C2UExpo2017 For the Common Good in SFU Vancouver.
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