The Centrality of Engagement in Higher Education

Hiram E. Fitzgerald, Karen Bruns, Steven T. Sonka, Andrew Furco, Louis Swanson

Abstract


The centrality of engagement is critical to the success of higher
education in the future. Engagement is essential to most effectively achieving the overall purpose of the university, which is focused on the knowledge enterprise. Today’s engagement is scholarly, is an aspect of learning and discovery, and enhances society and higher education. Undergirding today’s approach to community engagement is the understanding that not all knowledge and expertise resides in the academy, and that both expertise and great learning opportunities in teaching and scholarship also reside in non-academic settings. By recommitting to their societal contract, public and land-grant universities can fulfill their promise as institutions that produce knowledge that benefits society and prepares students for productive citizenship in a democratic society. This new engagement also posits a new framework for scholarship that moves away from emphasizing products to emphasizing impact.

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