What happens when community-campus partnerships involving diverse communities, community-based organizations, postsecondary institutions, researchers, students, and foundations seek to put communities first in their engagement practices? This is the question that is addressed through a range of perspectives in this issue of Engaged Scholar Journal.

Across the contributions, we find a common theme: None of our authors would say they have fully realized the community-first ethos, but striving towards this goal has resulted in personal, social, institutional, and epistemological transformations. Just as the process of throwing, glazing, and firing can transform clay into a beautiful mug like the one featured on the cover of this issue—created by our colleague Cathleen Kneen (1944-2016) —so too does striving to put community first reshape the way we work. This ethos challenges us and it is changing us, but in many ways, the journey to adopt community-first ways of working together has only just begun.

The content in this special issue was created in the context of the Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement (CFICE, pronounced “suffice”) partnership research project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada beginning in 2012. Over the course of two project phases, CFICE’s overarching goal has been to enhance the partnership policies and practices of community-based organizations, postsecondary institutions, governments and funders to create more effective and valuable community-campus engagement. We define community-campus engagement to include community-engaged research, community service learning, and other ways that postsecondary institutions can have an impact in their communities, such as their potential as anchor institutions for local economies (Dragicevic, 2015).

We hope you enjoy this special issue of Engaged Scholar Journal. For CFICE participants, the transformative journey continues…

Click on the image below to open a PDF copy or view the online version here.

Engaged Scholar Journal CFICE Special Issue Cover photo featuring a mug painted with sheep.