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

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Michelle Vazquez Jacobus
Robert Baskett
Christina Bechstein


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.

Community-university partnership, sustainability, diversity, vulnerable youth

Article Details

Research articles (Refereed)
Author Biographies

Michelle Vazquez Jacobus, University of Southern Maine at Lewiston Auburn College

Michelle is an Assistant Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences as well as Leadership and Organizational Studies. She earned her BA from Duke University, her JD from Stanford University and her MSW from New York University

Robert Baskett, Sandcastle Clinical and Educational Services

Robert is the Director of Operations and psychologist at Sandcastle. He earned his B.A. at Empire State College State University of New York and his Ph. D. at the New School for Social Research.

Christina Bechstein, Maine College of Art (MECA)

Christina is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at Maine College of Art. She has an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art.