Universities are no longer ivory towers dispensing knowledge at arms length from their communities. Students are more aware of the world around them than ever before – they’re often adults with a job, a family, a place in the world.
In a climate of decreasing government finance and increasing competition, universities need to demonstrate their relevance by meeting the needs of their wider community.
Business and community leaders possess a wealth of knowledge and experience. Universities are now listening to business, industry and local communities and liaising with government to ensure that they are making a difference to their students, their communities and their regions.
The third role of universities
If the two traditional roles of a university are teaching and research then its third role is to engage with its wider community to contribute to the health and social well-being, sustainable development and economic competitiveness of its region.
There are numerous definitions of community engagement but the Australian University Community Engagement Alliance (AUCEA) has summed it up as, ‘a two-way relationship in which the university forms partnerships with the community that yield mutually beneficial outcomes.’
Community engagement is core business at CDU
Community engagement is enshrined in Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) vision ‘to be a thriving university that dares to be different and takes advantage of its unique geography and demography to benefit the whole community through education, research and community engagement’.
Community engagement is alive and well at CDU
Community engagement is not new at CDU. Lecturers, researchers, members of the executive and other staff have been engaging with business, industry, government and the community sector for some time. Students have been engaging in community events as part of their courses. The main difference is that we now call this ‘community engagement’ and its importance is now acknowledged in the University’s strategic directions. It is time to identify, value and celebrate our engagement!
Latest news on the CDU website is full of examples of community engagement. Here are just a few from recent weeks:
‘On Track’ is a world first study that is engaging communities across Australia to explore whether a competitive and sustainable desert 4WD tourism industry is viable and what is needed to make it work. Read more >>
CDU’s external Bachelor of Nursing has a mix of programs to suit health industry needs. Read more >>
CDU welcomes the community to Casuarina and Palmerston campuses to celebrate Harmony day. Read more >>
The development of a suite of new Territory-tailored teacher education courses aim to make study convenient, relevant and more effective, with the program custom-built to suit the needs of the Territory. Read more >>
A new group, Dragonflies is bringing together music students, members of previous non-award ensemble programs, talented CYM students and anyone from the community. Read more >>
A CDU partnership with industry trials an alternative diesel fuel additive that could signal the ‘birth of a new era’ in bio-fuel development. Read more >>
For further information on community engagement or if you would like to profile your community engagement activity on the CDU website, please contact Linda Cuttriss, Coordinator Community Engagement: firstname.lastname@example.org