Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi
Community Engagement is a big phrase that occurs in many different forms, but the essential feature of community engagement is easy to understand. Simply put, it is a partnership between the University of Mississippi scholars and non-higher education collaborators. Community Engagement occurs when UM faculty, staff, and/or students partner with non-higher education collaborators in the public or private sectors to accomplish a goal that benefits all parties (UM’s Common Community Engagement Definitions). Community Engagement occurs within all facets of the University’s research, learning, and service missions (UM’s Model of Community Engagement). Community Engagement advances UM’s mission while benefiting society through the discovery, development, and/or dissemination of knowledge that ultimately improves the learning, behavior, and conditions of individuals and communities (UM’s Engaged Scholarship Model).
Community Engagement partnerships evolve over time, and the types of partnership include: outreach, consulting, involvement, shared leadership, and community-driven (UM’s Community Engagement Partnership Matrix). No single type of partnership is better than the other types. Instead, the partnership type is shaped by the duration and shared goals of the relationship.
Communities are not limited to geographically defined areas. Communities also include individuals or groups connected by shared interests or practices, situational similarities, or even culture and beliefs.
The simplest way to identify community engagement is to look for a mutually beneficial partnership between UM scholars and organizations and people beyond the academy. Whenever a University of Mississippi student, staff, or faculty member collaborates with a community partner to accomplish a goal that benefits all parties – that is Community Engagement.