The relationship of community engagement with universities' core missions

David Charles, Paul Benneworth, Catherine Hodgson, Lynne Humphrey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter seeks to highlight and make explicit some of the tensions and issues that arise inside universities seeking to engage, and to provide insights into how activities framed as peripheral, contingent and voluntary can become significant to a particular institution. This chapter begins from the perspective that a university can be regarded as a set of groupings with different, and sometimes competing, interests. For community engagement to become a serious institutional interest, engagement must offer something to each grouping within the university. This chapter explores the dynamics of these institutional dialogues as a means of understanding university–community engagement. Different groupings have different kinds of attachments to community engagement as a means of fulfilling their own interests. Where institutional narratives of community engagement can be found that encompass many different groupings’ attitudes, then community engagement can become important to the university. Otherwise, internal tensions frame community engagement as working against institutional interests, and hence reinforce its peripherality, contingency and optionality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUniversity Engagement With Socially Excluded Communities
EditorsPaul Benneworth
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9789400748750
ISBN (Print)9789400748743
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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