The definition of Community Engagement is fluid and changing
At the University of Saskatchewan, the meaning of "Community Engagement" is as varied as its own community of faculty, students, and staff, nuanced by many disciplinary, historical, and place contexts. There is no one way of doing academic community engagement. In practice, faculty, students, and staff engaging with public will necessarily reflect on the differences between established practices of extension, dessemination, outreach, voluntarism, and service learning, whilst considering newer concepts of community-university engagement expressed in terms of co-creation, interdisciplinarity, feedback, consultation, and sharing.
Every member of the university can support Community Engagement
Faculty, staff, students, and administrators all contribute to the mutually beneficial connections the university has with the public. Meaningful engagement hinges on understanding of community, at any scale: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, international; rural, urban, inner city; northern, southern; Aboriginal, settler, newcomer; CBO, government, business. Befitting its history, the University of Saskatchewan is a componant part of all of these communities. The individual people who make up the university possess intimate knowledges and varied experiences of these different constituencies, and each person can contribute greatly to better communication and understanding.
The University of Saskatchewan values contributions to strong public partnerships
The university recognizes that meaningful engagement takes time and commitment. The Office of Community Engagement has been created to provide support: resources, connections, facilitation, funds, workspace, and dissemination. The intent is to lessen faculty, student, and staff workload, and recognise the contributions public partnerships bring to high-quality research and teaching. The CE office also takes a role advocating for collegial recognition for community engaged work, so those practising it are properly recognised and rewarded through their career progression.
It's not just about US
The university committment to Community Engagement is about support, facilitation, and conversation. It's not about 'PR' for the university, nor is it about advancing political or monetary institutional aims. Reflecting the founding ideals of the university, first articulated in 1907, our work with community is about learning, sharing, knowledge generation, and community building, in whatever forms those things may take. We like to tell our stories, and we rely on public, industry, and community funding to do our work, but ultimately, we engage to spur interest in new discovery, to provide value to society, and to make better scholars of us all, on campus and beyond.