Identifying opportunity for community-engaged scholarship 

By Russ Cooper

On May 20, Edward Jackson of Carleton University's Initiative for Community-University Engagement (ICUE) – an initiative dedicated to strengthening and expanding experiential learning and community-based research throughout Ottawa – was welcomed to share his findings on the potential benefits of expanding community engagement, especially in these uncertain financial times.

A co-presentation by the Centre for Teaching and Learning Services, the School of Extended Learning and Sustainable Concordia (three offices heavily focused on community engagement), Jackson's lecture, "From Recession to Renewal: How can community-engaged scholarship contribute?" detailed ways to address the loss of jobs, especially in the auto sector, and replace them with new, sustainable ways to support families.

His answer: Expanded engagement in business and university to create difference starting from on-the-ground experience, and the implementation of 'green jobs' – those that provide a product or service allowing consumers to consume less and reduce total energy use and environmental impact.

"We have to think about situations such as the vaporization of jobs in Ontario and Quebec very hard. Luckily, there are some great opportunities to make a difference for the future in there," said Jackson, using the possibility of establishing factories that produce wind turbines developed by researchers at Canadian universities as an illustration.

"All levels of university, from researchers and students up to deans and chairs and onto the Board of Governors, Senate and President, need to speak the same language to allow change to happen. And when we do, great things can happen."

Friends and colleagues for more than two decades, Institute in Community Development (ICD) Director Lance Evoy and Jackson have worked together on and off through various coinciding community-development projects over the years. (The ICD became part of the School of Extended Learning in September.)

"We're beginning to learn how to articulate and how to build out support and interest for more community engagement," said Evoy. "Students are putting their community engagement experiences on their resumés, and businesses are noticing."


Concordia University