New institute to support community-university engagement

Human and Social Development

The University of Victoria continued on its path to high-level community engagement with the creation of the new Institute for Studies and Innovation in Community-University Engagement (ISICUE).

The research centre, which opened June 3 as part of Congress 2013, is a collaboration between the Faculty of Human and Social Development and the Faculty of Social Sciences. It will study and practice community-university engagement, with the aim of contributing to solutions about community issues.

“This new institute enhances opportunities for the community and university to work together to promote and support innovative projects and to evaluate the impact of our engagement,” says Leslie Brown, director of the institute.

The institute builds on the expertise and work of by the Office of Community-Based Research (OCBR) and its focus on community-engaged research and innovative ideas for the marketplace. OCBR was launched in 2007 and leveraged $1.2-million in additional funds for its projects, which helped communities and generated over 70,000 hours of volunteer time.

Now, OCBR's numerous functions are being linked. The community engagement research will be done by ISICUE. The community outreach and partnerships done by OCBR, UVic Industry Partnerships and UVic's Office of Research Services are now under the mandate of the Research Partnerships and Knowledge Mobilization Unit (RPKM), which launched in April.

RPKM helps provide partnerships between faculty and external organizations, including industry, community and government. It's a “one-stop” shop where public and private sector partners can access services for brokering collaborative research opportunities and partnerships.

The two will complement each other, says Brown, and provide the opportunity for UVic to closely examine community engagement.

“We're creating that space for the community and university to come together. We'll look at what we've done. Has it been effective? Can we do it better? How? What benefit is there for students and how can we improve that? We'll look at what we're doing and why. It's a place of reflection and action as we move forward,” Brown said.

ISICUE will be co-governed equally by community and university representatives. It will be co-chaired by Sandra Richardson, CEO of the Victoria Foundation, Dr. Peter Keller, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Dr. Mary Ellen Purkis, dean of UVic's Faculty of Human and Social Development, and Linda Hughes, CEO of the United Way of Greater Victoria.

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Keywords: congress, community

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