Can Universities Really Effectively Engage with Socially Excluded Communities?

Reflections on the British Experience
  • Fred RobinsonEmail author
  • Ray Hudson


This chapter explores the way that within a single elite university, the opportunity exists for community engagement to take place in a meaningful way, as a means of exploring how community engagement as a mission can be reconciled with other more urgent pressures facing universities to be excellent in their research and teaching. The chapter takes a look at the individuals within an institution, and in particular how they are shaped and guided by these competing discourses, and how that also interacts with their own personal senses of morality and motivation. The chapter questions the focus on institutions as a central locus for community engagement, and argues that many university staff are drawn to engagement despite rather than because of the institutional attitude to engagement. Engaged community research may produce uncomfortable reading for powerful actors, and therefore cannot expect to enjoy unlimited public support, and therefore sustaining these activities requires motivation and organisation within the universities themselves. The issue for universities as institutions is in finding ways to leverage and make sense of these activities, to fit it into the discourses of excellence focusing on the easily measured, and help engaged academics and communities to achieve their wider transformational goals.


Corporate Social Responsibility Community Engagement Corporate Social Responsibility Programme Institutional Commitment High Education Fund Council 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Durham UniversityDurhamUK

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