Engaging a community with students increases everyone’s level of awareness, allows individuals to advocate for their ideas, and offers a format to gather advice or guidance based on the community’s expertise, experiences and needs.
“Community engagement describes the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities to the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity” (Carnegie 2006).
Community engagement is needed to guide the development of the project agenda by expanding or redefining the focus of the initiative, identifying unexposed information, and creating a network for revenue sources and funding partners. Stakeholders are educated on the issue and invited to contribute to the process thereby expanding access to available knowledge and skills. When communities are engaged at the beginning and throughout the project, people appear to
a) be more receptive to the outcome,
b) have the capacity to implement change, and
c) maintain long-term partnerships improves.