Choice, power and perspective: The neglected question of who initiates engaged campus-community partnerships

Robert W. Glover, Linda Silka


To address society’s complex challenges, campus-community partnerships are increasingly being undertaken by academia. As a result, questions of how to ensure that these partnerships succeed have taken on a new urgency. This urgency has led to an emphasis on the creation of ‘how to’ guides focused on the mechanics of building effective partnerships. This article argues that this focus is premature and attention instead needs to be directed to the neglected but ultimately more fundamental question of who is ‘allowed’ to initiate the partnerships. It is argued here that the seemingly simple and straightforward issue of who initiates the partnership leads us into the complex problems of choice, power and perspective which bedevil campus-community partnerships. Until these problems are fully addressed, the partnership approach is unlikely to achieve its status as a central means by which community-university engagement can be realised in academia.

Keywords: campus-community partnerships, community engagement, partnership initiation, research, knowledge creation, reciprocity.

Full Text: