Sustainable Engagement? Reflections on the development of a creative community-university partnership

Jennifer Shea


Recognising the untapped potential of multiple discrete community-university partnerships (CUPs) in San Francisco, San Francisco’s Neighborhood Empowerment Network (NEN) and the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement at San Francisco State University are in the midst of creating a collaborative community-university partnership called NEN University (NENu),which includes other Bay Area institutions of higher education as well as city agencies, non-profit organisations, businesses and neighbourhood resident leaders. This article reflects on the author’s experiences and observations in the ‘doing’ of engaged scholarship as it relates to NENu over the past two years. It contributes to the discussion of how best to build sustainable (in that they have staying power beyond the commitment of a few key individuals) and effective (in terms of building or strengthening communities) CUPs. In so doing it offers a framework for understanding possible threats to the sustainability of CUPs and applies that framework to an account of NENu’s partnership development process. The article concludes with implications for research and practice.

community-university partnership; engaged scholarship; leadership; sustainability

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