Last week, I got the chance to attend the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities’ Facilitated Dialogue at Wagner College on Staten Island in New York City. The theme was “The Future of Civic Engagement: Learning, Impact, Scope, and Evidence” and there were attendees from a number of different universities. We had some great discussions about civic engagement at our own campuses and also heard about a lot of interesting engagement projects at Wagner College such as a partnership with Port Richmond High School in Staten Island, a community theater program, and a community service program for student-athletes.

One discussion that I found particularly helpful was moderated by John Saltmarsh, the Co-Director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education. He talked about where the civic engagement movement is now and where we, as engaged institutions, are headed. He discussed four components to focus on when thinking about civic engagement initiatives on our own campuses and their impacts:

  1. Civic learning outcomes
  2. Community outcomes
  3. Faculty rewards
  4. Relationship of knowledge, power, and self-interest

Another point that Dr. Saltmarsh covered was moving toward what he calls a “public engagement knowledge regime” at our institutions, which places more emphasis on civic engagement than ever before. This model involves community partnerships that enhance the universities’ missions, while also contributing to the public good.

Dr. Saltmarsh noted that, overall, colleges and universities are becoming more civically engaged. I think this is evident with TU, as we are currently going through the re-application process for the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement. His points will certainly be helpful as we are evaluating TU’s commitment to civic and community engagement and how those four pieces will fit into our application. They will also help us move forward in our engagement efforts and enhance our relationships with the community.