A number of existing charters and frameworks of public engagement have informed the development of our own framework, manifesto and tools. Listed below is a selection of some of the sources we have drawn on.
Self assessment tools
The Higher Education Community Engagement Model was created in 2003 by several Russell Group universities, in collaboration with the Corporate Citizenship Company. It is based on the London Benchmarking Model which is used by many large companies to measure their contributions to the community, but has been adapted for use by any higher education institution. The model was piloted in 2004, underwent a large scale evaluation and was opened up for use by any HEI in 2006.
The aim of the model is to capture community activities which are conducted over and above the University's core purposes of teaching and research. 'Community' is here defined in its broadest sense - i.e. any contribution which would be broadly accepted by society as charitable.
Designed as a self-assessment tool for universities, the original version appeared in the book Managing Civic and Community Engagement by David Watson. It was originally designed for the Association of Commonwealth Universities in 2004. The questionnaire aims to address the following five issues:
- clarifying the institution's historical and mission-based commitments to its host society
- identifying how engagement informs and influences the institution's range of operations
- describing how the institution is organised to meet the challenge of civic engagement and social responsibility
- assessing the contribution of staff, students and external partners to the engagement agenda
- monitoring achievements, constraints and future opportunities for civic engagement and social responsibility
Association of Commonwealth Universities; Engagement as a core value for the university - a check list
This checklist was devised in 2001, and provides a set of prompts that institutional leaders might ask in order to gauge the institution's level and location of engagement. It covers the following topics:
- The imperative of engagement
- Purposes and policies
- The world is our student
- The dialogue of theory with practice
Principles of effective public engagement
Two useful checklists and guidance notes have been produced about effective public engagement.
This details a number of key things that are necessary for effective public engagament, namely:
- Participants should join those organising the process in setting terms of reference for the whole exercise, and framing the questions that they will discuss
- The group organising, or in overall control of, the process should be broad based, including stakeholders with different interests on the subject being discussed
- There should be a diversity of information sources and perspectives available to participants
- There should be space for the perspectives of those participants who lack specialist knowledge of the area concerned to engage in a two-way exchange with those possessing specialist knowledge
- There should be complete transparency of the activities carried out within the process to those both inside and outside it
- Those without a voice in policy-making should be enabled to use the consultation process as a tool for positive political change. This should be embedded in the process by sufficient funds being made available for follow-up work after their initial conclusions have been reached
- The process should contain safeguards against decision-makers using a process to legitimise existing assumptions or policies
- All groups involved in the process should be given the opportunity to identify possible strategies for longer-term learning, development and change on a range of issues relating to their conclusions
- The group organising, or in overall control of, the process should develop an audit trail through the process, to explain whether policies were changed, what was taken into account, what criteria were applied when weighing up the evidence from the process, and therefore how the views of those involved in the participatory process may have made a difference. This should be explored together with as many of those involved in all levels of the process as possible
This publication explores in detail how the following principles need to be applied in practice:
- The process makes a difference
- The process is transparent
- The process has integrity
- The process is tailored to circumstances
- The process involves the right number and type of individuals
- The process treats participants with respect
- The process gives priority to participants' discussions
- The process is reviewed and evaluated to improve practice
- Participants are kept informed
Manifestos for public engagement
The following three 'declarations' or manifestos have been devised for universities wishing to express a formal commitment to engagement.
Campus Compact is a North American coalition of more than 1,100 college and university presidents - representing some 6 million students - dedicated to promoting community service, civic engagement, and service-learning in higher education. The declaration was drafted in 1999 to articulate the commitment of all sectors of higher education to their civic purposes.
A 2005 conference gave rise to the Talloires Declaration on the Civic Roles and Social Responsibilities of Higher Education. All signatories of the Declaration have committed their institutions to creating a framework enlarging, supporting, and rewarding good practice in civic engagement and social responsibility. They have agreed to apply academic standards of excellence to community engagement and encourage education for active citizenship at all levels. So far 11 UK universities have signed up to the declaration, including Newcastle University, the Open University, and the universities of Brighton, Bradford and Winchester.
Produced after a conference in 1998, this North American document lays out ways in which an engaged university might embody its commitment to public engagement in its mission, focussing on these five headings:
- Faculty (including teaching staff)
- The Institution
Engagement master plans
The following documents provide practical advice about how universities can embed a commitment to engagement into their work.
A report coordinated by the North American organisations Campus Compact, it offered the following recommendations to institutions seeking to embrace their vision for engagement:
- Conduct an institution-wide audit of civic engagement to identify and assess the extent of activity, its purposes, and its locations
- Give campus-wide visibility and recognition to exemplary efforts, including engaged community partners
- Convene faculty and students who are involved in civic engagement activities so they may learn from and encourage each other
- Encourage faculty to examine how engaged scholarship can be valued in tenure and promotion decisions, and grant awards regardless of discipline
- Offer incentives (e.g. teaching/research assistants, curriculum development funds, research incentive funds) to faculty members who propose innovative civic engagement courses, research, or other initiatives
- Engage the university's governing body in an appraisal of the institution's role and effectiveness in delivering on the civic mission of higher education
- Appoint dedicated senior academic leadership (e.g. associate provost) to promote engaged scholarship that addresses pressing public problems
- Educate graduate students in engaged scholarship approaches so they will help make them standard practice across higher education in the future
- Develop institutional capacity to establish and maintain university-community partnerships that are of mutual benefit to the university and its local community
- Provide sustainable funding for engaged scholarship through centrally funded small grant programs and interdisciplinary centers focused on addressing public problems
A detailed action plan, listing how the university plans to implement its vision for engagement, published in 2008. The document outlines ten specific areas that need to be addressed to enable them to embed and institutionalize public engagement:
- The scholarly value of engagement
- Accounting and assessment
- Student scholars and leaders
- Community connections
- Cultivating and supporting campus leaders
- Marketing and visibility
- Program alignment
- Internal networking
- National and international networking
- Leverage extramural funds
If you are aware of other useful frameworks, please let us know.