UW authors critique community-university partnerships in UNESCO report

September 17, 2015

A new landmark report on community-university research partnerships from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) features a critical analysis of practices in the United States from two University of Wisconsin–Madison authors.

Morgridge Center for Public Service Assistant Director Elizabeth Tryon was the lead author on the analysis of research partnerships between universities and communities beyond campus in the United States. The 19-page chapter was co-authored by Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies Ph.D. student Dadit Hidayat as well as Loyola University Chicago Professor Philip Nyden.

Photo: Elizabeth Tryon

Elizabeth Tryon

Photo: Dadit Hidayat

Dadit Hidayat

The report emphasizes the importance of national and regional knowledge-sharing networks, targeted research funding aimed at community-based work, recognition for the contribution of community partners and established centers — like the Morgridge Center — that play a key role in facilitating campus-community linkages. National, regional and community policy support for community-university partnerships was also found to be a critical factor in the success of the partnerships.

The open-source report, Strengthening Community University Research Partnerships: Global Perspectives, was released in August 2015 by UNESCO’s chair in community-based research and social responsibility in higher education.

The goal of the project was to develop “cutting-edge analysis of contemporary academic practice and innovative collaborative methodology.”

“The hope for its impact is that it helps communities around the globe who work with universities to design and use academic research to inform public policy,” Tryon says, “and to enable those of us engaged in research and research partnerships to evaluate our procedures and look towards developing even more improved processes in the future.”

In addition to an overview of community-university research in the United States, Tryon’s chapter includes case studies on UW–Madison, Loyola University Chicago and the Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, based in Seattle.

Tryon has collaborated with UNESCO co-chairs on several initiatives in the last decade, including past articles and conference presentations on democratizing knowledge and research. She has also served on the steering committee for the Global Alliance for Community-Engaged Research.

—Mark Bennett

Read the report