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ERIC Number: EJ1001396
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Oct
Pages: 20
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 17
ISSN: ISSN-1534-6102
Integrating a Commitment to the Public Good into the Institutional Fabric: Further Lessons from the Field
Harkavy, Ira; Hartley, Matthew
Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, v16 n4 p17-36 Oct 2012
This essay builds on and extends earlier research and writing that the authors have done, trying to understand how a commitment to local engagement, which is the term commonly used at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), becomes embedded in the core work of the institution. Their inquiries have been guided by social psychologist Kurt Lewin's dictum: If one wants to truly understand something, try to change it. The work undertaken by the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, with which the authors are both involved (one as founding director and the other as a long-standing member of the Netter Center's faculty advisory board), has constituted an ongoing participatory action research project whose primary interconnected goals are to help produce substantive change for the better and, through that process, advance knowledge and learning. A central theme of this essay is that institutionalization occurs when organizational structures are established to support local engagement, and when a critical mass of colleagues embrace the value of this work. Resources also need to be secured and strategically deployed to ensure the development and growth of an effective organization and programs. The authors have found that for a higher education institution to genuinely (as opposed to putatively) embrace its civic mission, faculty members must come to see the work as central. At a research university like Penn, this means conceptualizing the work of engagement as a powerful strategy for developing new knowledge through research and teaching. Given Penn's founding purpose of serving society and promoting citizenship, it also involves working to connect local engagement efforts to the goal of improving the community and to a larger, democratic purpose. The authors believe that these approaches, which entail both structural and ideological change, enable civic engagement to put down roots in the groves of academe. (Contains 1 figure and 1 endnote.)
Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, University of Georgia and the Institute of Higher Education. Treanor House, 1234 South Lumpkin Street, Athens, GA 30602. Tel: 706-542-6167; Fax: 706-542-6124; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania