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Dissertation Overviews

Vol. 18 No. 4

Democratically Engaged Community–University Partnerships: Reciprocal Determinants of Democratically Oriented Roles and Processes

December 24, 2014


A relatively new conception of engagement provides a framework by which institutions of higher education engage with communities in democratic ways, which include inclusive, reciprocal problem-oriented work that brings together university and community stakeholders as co-generators of knowledge. The resulting democratically engaged partnerships position diverse members to take on roles as collaborators and problem solvers. They are mutually transformed through the processes of reciprocation, power diffusion, and knowledge generation. How these roles and processes emerge is unknown. Neither the literature on democratic engagement nor that on community–university partnerships address this gap. Using a purposefully selected community–university partnership that has a high degree of democratic engagement, evidence was collected of the ways in which the roles and processes of democratically engaged partnerships were enacted. Of particular interest were the blend of democratic and technocratic characteristics present, the critical role of orienting new partners, and the role of leadership in promoting a democratic orientation.