Many colleges are deeply entwined with their local communities, and service learning and partnerships are common. Often, those relationships grow from connections between faculty and the surrounding businesses and organizations, but colleges can assist by identifying channels that make it easier for college-community collaborations to form. When colleges move more programming online, they should consider how technology can be leveraged to connect their programs to the world beyond the campus. And partnerships between public colleges and the wider community can help make crisis response more effective and impactful, and go a long way to integrating universities with the publics that support them.
As you aim to keep your students connected to their college community and demonstrate the college’s commitment to the vitality of your region, ask: “What pathways exist for academics and the public to connect around shared needs and goals?” Try as much as possible to offer simple, online architectures to open these pathways.
- What people or offices on campus are responsible for helping community organizations connect with academic expertise?
- What people or offices on campus support faculty in designing service learning opportunities that don’t drain precious community resources?
- What web portals exist on campus to link students and faculty to community projects, and vice versa, and who on campus maintains those channels?
- How are college-community collaborations documented and collected to demonstrate the value of Higher Ed to the community?
- During a time of crisis, what common challenges and common goals does the college share with its surrounding public?
Examples & Resources
- Connecticut College’s Holleran Center maintains a website for its community partners, and posts a phone number there for new partners to make contact.
- A community college guide to community engagement and strategic partnerships.
- On the importance of reciprocity in community-college partnerships.
- Alleghany College of Maryland has a nice site for community partnerships that offers a portal sign-up for partners.
- University of Wisconsin LaCrosse also has a well-designed portal to link community partners to the university.
- The Ohio Community Collaboration Model for School Improvement has a useful resource with examples of community partnerships that improve student learning (K12 focus).
- Do you know of a college doing a great job partnering with the community to serve the public, improve student learning, and/or respond to a crisis? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know!