Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi
3/26/2020 – We are excited to share the appointment of Dr. Anthony C. Siracusa as our inaugural Director of Community Engagement. This excitement is tempered by trepidation amidst the global health crisis we currently face. For many of us, especially our students, the Covid-19 pandemic is the first global public health crisis we have navigated. The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) call for social distancing is among the most important things we can do right now to preserve our individual and public health, and following these guidelines in addition to the mandates from our Mayor, Aldermen, State, and Federal Authorities is the number one way we can ‘flatten the curve’ of the coronavirus’ spread.
During this difficult time, the health and safety of our most vulnerable populations are particularly at risk. Being a good citizen means, at this moment, staying at home. But there is more we can do right now to protect our most vulnerable populations, especially as we begin preparations for the challenges that will follow the end of the quarantine. In the recovery that will follow, we want to be especially mindful in ensuring that the most vulnerable people in our communities have the resources they need to recover. This will include providing support to the organizations and agencies who continue to serve the day to day needs of people in the Lafayette/Oxford/University (LOU) community. Click the images below for ways you can stay safe and stay engaged.
Visit our COVID-19 and CE page for ongoing updates and information.
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.