Building Castles Together: A sustainable collaboration as a perpetual work-in-progress

Michelle Vazquez Jacobus, Robert Baskett, Christina Bechstein


Abstract

The Building Castles Together project is a multidisciplinary collaboration between the University of Southern Maine at Lewiston-Auburn College and Sandcastle Clinical and Educational Services that aims to build solidarity and resilience in vulnerable young children, their families and their community. This article explores how the partnership exemplifies five key areas impacting the sustainability of community-university collaborations. 1) Mutuality and reciprocity are foundational elements in establishing trust and ensuring project relevance to both organisations. 2) Interdisciplinarity and diversity are constructs related to the core mission of both the University and Sandcastle. The multiple perspectives offer a range of holistic strategies for addressing complex social problems, but also create the potential for misunderstandings between disciplines and organisations. 3) Community integration at multiple levels is critical to the partnership’s sustainability as well as to achievement of its ideals. 4) Dynamic interaction is an evolutionary process, both internal and external to both organisations, that impacts their relative contributions and necessitates flexibility in planning and outcomes. 5) Asset enhancement describes the potential to increase capacity, but also the concern for overextension and resource exhaustion. We conclude that sustainability in university-community partnerships is not a goal in itself, but an ongoing process, and an attribute of a partnership based on common principles, continuous input and constant change.

Keywords
Community-university partnership, sustainability, diversity, vulnerable youth

Full Text

PDF

References

Arlach, L, Sanchez, B & Feuer, R 2009, 'Voices from the community: A case for reciprocity in service-learning', Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 5–16.

Begun, A, Berger, L, Otto-Salaj, L & Rose, S 2010, 'Developing effective social work university-community research collaborations', Social Work, vol. 55, no. 1, pp. 54–62. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/sw/55.1.54

Boyer, E 1996, 'The scholarship of engagement', Journal of Public Service and Outreach, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 11–20.

Bushouse, B 2005, 'Community non-profit organizations and service learning: Resource constraints to building partnerships with universities', Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 32–40.

Castillo, A, Torres, A, Velazquez, G & Bocco, G 2005, 'The use of ecological science by rural producers: A case study in Mexico', Ecological Application, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 745–56. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/03-5360

Downs, T, Ross, L, Patton, S, Rulnick, S, Sinha, D & Mucciarone, D 2009, 'Complexities of holistic community-based participatory research for a low income, multi-ethnic population exposed to multiple built-environment stressors in Worcester, Massachusetts', Environmental Research, vol. 109, no. 8, pp. 1028–40. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2009.08.005

Fielden, S, Rusch, M, Masinda, M, Sands, J, Frankish, J & Evoy, B 2007, 'Key considerations for logic model development in research partnerships: A Canadian case study', Evaluation and Program Planning, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 115–24. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2007.01.002

Fogel, S, & Cook, J 2006, 'Considerations on the scholarship of engagement as an area of specialization for faculty', Journal of Social Work Education, vol. 42, no. 13, pp. 595–607. http://dx.doi.org/10.5175/JSWE.2006.200404146

Hart, A & Wolff, D 2006, 'Developing communities of practice through community-university partnerships', Planning, Practice and Research, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 121–38. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02697450600901616

Israel, B, Schulz, A, Parker, E & Becker, A 2001, 'Community-based participatory research: Policy recommendations for promoting a partnership approach in health research', Education for Health, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 182–97. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13576280110051055

Kolb, D 1984, Experiential education: Experience as the source of learning and development, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Maine Children's Alliance 2010, Maine kids count 2010, Maine Children's Alliance, Augusta, ME, viewed 20 October 2010, www.voices.org/wpcontent/uploads/2010/07/KIDSCOUNT_2010_ME.pdf.

Maine Department of Education 2010, Free and reduced school lunch report, Maine Department of Education, viewed 20 October 2010, .

McCaslin, R & Barnstable, C 2008, 'Increasing geriatric social work content through university/community partnerships', Gerontology and Geriatrics Education, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 1–18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02701960802074214

Merzel C, Burrus, G, Davis, J, Moses, N, Rumley, S & Walters, D 2007, 'Developing and sustaining community-academic partnerships: Lessons from Downstate New York Healthy Start', Health Promotion Practice, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 375–88. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1524839906289557

Miller, P 2006, 'Striving for mutual collaboration: The case of Mountain University and the Westside', Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership', vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 1–10. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1555458906287718

Peterson's 2011, Peterson's comprehensive guide to college information: Public university versus private college, viewed 22 February 2011, www.petersons.com/college-search/public-university-vs-private.aspx.

Phillips, R, Gorton R, Pinciotti P & Sachdev A 2010, 'Promising findings on preschooler's emergent literacy and school readiness in arts-integrated early childhood settings', Early Childhood Education Journal, vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 111–22. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10643-010-0397-x

Porter, M & Monard, K 2001, 'Ayni in the global village: Building relationships of reciprocity through international service-learning', Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 5–17.

Reardon, K 2006 'Promoting reciprocity within community/university development partnerships: Lessons from the field', Planning Practice and Research, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 95–107. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02697450600901566

Seers A, Keller, T, Wilkerson, J, Pearce, C & Conger, J 2003, 'Can team members share leadership? Foundations in research and theory', in C Pearce & J Conger (eds), Shared leadership: Reframing the hows and whys of leadership, Sage, Thousand Oakes, CA, pp. 77–102. http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781452229539.n4

Schramm D & Nye N 1999, Building higher education community development corporation partnerships, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington DC.

Sparks, J & Muro, M 2009, 'Client-directed wraparound: The client as connector in community collaboration', Journal of Systemic Therapies, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 63–76. http://dx.doi.org/10.1521/jsyt.2009.28.3.63

Stanton T, Giles D & Cruz N 1999, Service learning: A movement's pioneers reflect on its origin, practice and future, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.

Vazquez Jacobus, M & Baskett, R 2010, 'Building community capacity through school-based service-learning', Metropolitan Universities Journal, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 93–110.

Vazquez Jacobus, M & Harris, D 2007, 'Mapping hunger in Maine: A complex collaboration', Academic Exchange Quarterly, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 202–09.

Vazquez Jacobus, M & Jalali, R in press, 'Challenges to food access among Lewiston's African immigrants', Maine Policy Review.

Vazquez Jacobus, M, Tiemann, M & Reed, E in press, 'The Downtown Education Collaborative: A new model for collaborative community engagement', Metropolitan Universities Journal, vol. 21, no. 3.

Wackerhausen, S 2009, 'Collaboration, professional identity and reflection across boundaries', Journal of Interprofessional Care, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 455–73. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13561820902921720

Weinberg, A 2003, 'Negotiating community-based research: A case study of the Life's Work" Project', Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 26–35."

Zlotkowski E 2002, 'Social crisis and the faculty response', Journal of Public Affairs, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 1–18.