students now expect to do some of their coursework “in the community” –
projects, consultancies, reports, advice, research and a host of other forms of
community engagement. Students know they need these sorts of experiences, to
build up their skills and strengthen their employability. Universities know
they need these sorts of links, to support their commitment to community
involvement. Academics know that well-designed community learning can transform
students in so many ways.This SEDA Special addresses these ideas head on by having as its core aims the
improvement of the student learning experience within the community and
the enhancement of HEIs’ connection with, and overall value to, society.
Drawing on a variety of evidence bases – including five practical case studies
of university community engagement – the Special explores how we can develop
staff capacity for enabling accredited community-based learning, and support,
recognise and reward this range of work. The Special is intended to inform policy
makers, senior managers, educational developers, quality assurance personnel,
course leaders and academic staff, by stimulating debate and discussion around
what constitutes ‘good practice’ in this important but hitherto neglected area.