by Maeve Lydon, CFICE Aligning Institutions for Community Impact Community Co-Lead 

Puzzle-pieces_GoogleREUSEThe year 2017 promises to be an exciting year for connecting efforts and consolidating a long-term vision and action plan for the national community-campus engagement (CCE) movement in Canada. To that end, Community First Impacts of Community Engagement (CFICE) (2012-2019) is aligning its efforts with other key networks such as Community-Based Research Canada (CBRC) and supporting engagement and policy building opportunities through the C2UEXPO 2017 gathering in Vancouver from May 1-5, 2017. CFICE is represented on the International Coordinating Committee for C2UEXPO 2017 and is helping to organize the conference program May 3-5 as well as the Pre-Conference Community Jam sessions May 1-2 – designed to support innovative action teams focused on specific themes or projects.

Building on the first four years of community action research projects, there are now five cross-sector working groups for Phase 2 of CFICE (2016-2019) that will systematize and embed the learning from community-based research projects from Phase 1 (2012-2016). These Working Groups include: Aligning Institutions for Community Impacts (AICI); Student Pathways for Community Impact; Community-Campus Engagement (CCE) Brokering; Tools for Community-First Community Campus Partnerships; and Evaluation and Analysis (EA).

As the Community Co-Lead for the Aligning Institutions Working Group (AICI), I, along with Academic Co-Lead Patricia Ballamingie from Carleton University, lead Research Associate Katalin Koller, and student researchers will focus on 3 main activities for 2017-2019: First, we will create a made-in-Canada classification system to assess and strategically plan for ‘Community First’ community-campus engagement at post-secondary institutions, informed by the NCCPE’s EDGE Tool in the UK and the Carnegie Classifications System in the US.  Second, we will identify funding and develop enabling policies to support all actors involved in CCE (from community partners, to brokers, students, and faculty). And third, we will create an inventory map of campus engagement entities, offices and initiatives across the country (beginning with universities, but eventually expanding to colleges).

Collage of pictures depicting conference-goers.

© CUExpo 2017

As part of the larger national policy and action movement we also plan to build off of an 11 point Action Plan which Ted Jackson, retired Carleton University Professor and the original Principal Investigator (PI) of the CFICE Project, created after the pre-conference sessions at the last C2UEXPO 2015 in Ottawa. Titled Accelerating Change: Policy Innovation through and for Community-Campus Engagement, this document remains timely and in the coming months the AICI Working Group will explore how best to use it as a springboard, especially leading up to and including C2UEXPO 2017 events. Here are excerpts from the plan:

Introduction

On May 25, 2015, at Carleton University, 30 leaders and innovators in the field of community-campus partnerships developed a set of actions aimed at accelerating policy change in the eco-system for community engagement in Canada.  A subsequent workshop on May 26, 2015 at Algonquin College on the policy impacts of community-based research organized by Community-Based Research Canada took the conversation further.  Based on these deliberations, the following action plan is proposed for the next two years:

OVER THE NEXT YEAR (2015-2016)

  • Policy dialogue on public and community engagement with and among provincial governments, federal government agencies, and CUE leaders
  • Research and policy analysis on the hidden costs of multiple layers of accountability associated with university-managed federal research grants.
  • Research and policy analysis on ways and means of reducing the transaction costs to community organizations and non-profits in participating in community-campus partnerships
  • Ongoing consultation, research and policy analysis on the impacts of CBR in the humanities and social sciences
  • Building and disseminating a database of stories of the impacts of CBR, CSL and other forms of partnership
  • Collecting and posting the various models for incentivising universities and individual faculty members for doing effective, sustained partnership work
  • Building the case for mobilizing funds for non-traditional (non-academic) research chairs

OVER THE NEXT TWO YEARS (2015-2017)

  • Organize a Biz-Gov-CUE roundtable involving the Canadian Council of Executives, government officials, key CUE associations and networks, on the policy impacts of CUE
  • Design, fundraise for and establish a pan-Canadian coordinating centre for public and community engagement that would carry out research and education, and support PSE institutions, non-profit organizations and governments in building and applying effective public engagement capacity
  • Design, fundraise for and establish a grant-making fund to support non-profits, associations and social movements to initiate and co-direct community-campus partnerships in research, education and other areas
  • Carry out detailed research on the results of cases in which universities and colleges have used their investment capital to co-create hard assets in the community

silhouettes-1186990_1920AICI will work with its broader Working Group, advisory team and other collaborators to ensure the process of engagement and ownership of a broad-based action plan in Canada, inspired by the Accelerating Change document and others (which we are sure to find and create!), happens. It is not an easy thing to effect any kind of national action-focused collaborative in a country as vast and complex as Canada. However, higher education in Canada, as in many parts of the world, remains a vital public space for innovation and provides places for engagement.

Universities and colleges serve a unique role in society – and ideally, support the co-creation and facilitation of interdisciplinary solutions to the most pressing issues of our times (such as the Truth and Reconciliation’s Commission of Canada’s Call to Action), with multi-sector societal partners, researchers, teachers and students. With C2UEXPO 2017, CFICE and a wide range of national funders and bodies can now work together (more than ever before), to creatively seed a national collaborative that systematically supports and incentivizes institutions of higher education to be democratic, accountable, relevant and responsive – to serve the common good.

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