Knowledge in Action: University-Community Engagement in Australia

University-Community engagement is an important part of a nation’s social and economic development. An increasing focus on how knowledge is exchanged has encouraged many universities to consider their relationship and engagement with local communities. More than ever, universities are developing strategies for engaging with business, industry, government, and community, and recognise the role that they can play in the exchange of knowledge. With authorship drawn from community partners and universities, this book highlights the challenges of this engagement and outlines how well Australian universities defy these obstacles. This multi-disciplinary collection is inspired by the extraordinary, innovative, and creative projects being carried out throughout Australia. Each chapter reflects the mutually beneficial relationships that institutions have with their communities. Knowledge in Action: University-Community Engagement in Australia comes at a time of critical change in higher education across Australia, where requests for increased rationalisation call for a bold re-conceptualisation of how university-community engagement is seen, how it is done, how its impact is perceived by communities, and how it can be effectively measured. This collection explores such issues by providing exemplars of how universities are successfully involved with social, professional and business communities, and how this active engagement has the potential to produce positive and sustainable socio-economic change.


Isabelle Bartkowiak-Théron is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Tasmania and a Senior Researcher at the Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies. She specialises on the topics of policing and vulnerable people, and how community engagement can improve relationships between police and ‘at risk’ groups. Kathryn Anderson is an engagement professional at Flinders University. She develops and supports relationships between the University and local businesses and communities, embedding engaged teaching, research and outreach partnerships. Both Isabelle and Kathryn sit on the Scholarship Committee of Engagement Australia, the key organisation governing university-community engagement and service learning in Australia.

"The exploratory analysis of university-community cooperation by Bartkowiak-Théron, Anderson and collaborators shines a spotlight on the under-recognised topic of university engagement. The need to advance a more holistic extraction of value from universities is an emerging issue world-wide with increasing recognition that commercialising university research through patents, licenses and spin-outs is only part of a much bigger picture and undervalues the role that universities can have in our communities. The example of a university-community partnership provides insight into how interdisciplinary student collaboration can be structured and integrated into a curriculum. This valuable and much-needed examination of the topic using qualitative case studies builds a rock-solid foundation on which future work in this area can be built."

—Todd Davey, Fachhochschule Münster / Muenster University of Applied Sciences

"Over the past 20 years universities have grown substantially. In addition to engaging with a wider student base, they have also become significant parts of their State and national economies. This change brings a concomitant expansion of the responsibilities beyond traditional education and research. […] It is therefore most welcome to have this collection of scholarly analyses of these new activities for the university sector. Within this volume, it is extremely pleasing to read about the successful ‘Active Launceston’ program with its co-sponsorship by local government. Reflecting the new endeavours, this is a young field academically: the ideas are fresh and the references are recent. This work is both timely and exciting."

—Professor Mike Calford, Provost, University of Tasmania

"This multi-disciplinary collection is contributed to extensively by 10 Australian universities and 7 community organisations. With a focus on innovative practices, this book truly exemplifies "Knowledge in Action" and is an inspiration to all to work in a similar manner, applying and documenting meaningful university-community engaged practices in various parts of the globe."

—Professor Saran Kaur Gill, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia; Executive Director, AsiaEngage

Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-4438-6137-5

ISBN13: 978-1-4438-6137-3

Release Date: 23rd October 2014

Pages: 280

Price: £47.99

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