Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Reflective Essays

Vol. 16 No. 2

Using Relational Dialectics to Address Differences in Community-Campus Partnerships

May 24, 2012


Community and campus partners face inherent differences due to their distinct cultures, assumptions, practices, and constituencies. How partners handle the resulting tensions can impact how well the partnership functions article introduces relational dialectics as a framework to think about recurring tensions as natural and normal when partners span structural and cultural boundaries to work together. The authors show how three common dialectical tensions work in campus-community partnerships. Next, the ways in which partners can use learning conversations to gather detailed information related to the dialectical tensions are detailed. The authors then demonstrate different ways partners can manage the tensions, and they explain the potential impact(s) of each strategy on the  partnership. Finally, the implications of relational dialectics for  competency building, engagement practice, and research on community-campus collaboration are considered.