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Guiding Principles

Defining Our Terms

At William & Mary, community engagement is collective action that occurs in partnerships between campus and community members. It is sustained, purposeful, and advances community-driven positive change. Community engagement develops active and educated campus and community members, and enriches excellence in scholarship, teaching, and learning.

Community partnerships involve sharing resources and knowledge so that all parties are changed in their work toward a more just and sustainable community. Partnerships have varying depths and time frames. Successful partnerships are characterized by closeness, equity, integrity (Bringle, Clayton, & Price, 2009), and reciprocity.

When we speak of community, we mean groups of people who share a common sense of space or place, identity, or interests. In terms of community partnerships at William & Mary, “community” often indicates our nearby geographic area, but many partnerships are also built on shared interests independent of geography. We recognize that we are part of and interdependent with our community, rather than distinct from it.

Community-engaged scholarship refers to “mutually beneficial partnerships between universities and communities designed with the intention to collaboratively develop and apply knowledge to address… public issues…” (Gordon da Cruz, 2018).  Scholarship documents a range of theoretical underpinnings and ever-expanding, emergent practices of faculty engaged scholarship that furthermore reveals a rich history of variation across partnerships, disciplines, shared values, and intended outcomes (Boyer, E. 2006; Sandmann, L. et al., 2008, 2016).  (See Blanchard and Furco’s 2021 report on common frames for understanding engaged scholarship [e.g., civic, public, community, and critical], and discussion on common values and practices that characterize partnerships between higher education and other bodies toward common goals in community.)  

Guiding Principles
A collapsible table describing the guiding principles of the Council
Clear expectations and communication
Creating partnerships that honor the dignity of all, and where diverse experiences and perspectives are embraced
Bias to action
Moving forward together to act on community goals, even when the path ahead is uncertain or daunting
Partnerships are mutual and transformative, and bring new knowledge, resources, and opportunities into being
Cultural humility
“A lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and critique, to redressing power imbalances . . . and to developing mutually beneficial and non-paternalistic partnerships with communities on behalf of individuals and defined populations” (Melanie Tervalon & Jann Murray-Garcia, 1998)
Recognizing the worth and full humanity of all involved
Partnerships purposefully integrate practices to be inclusive of different ways of knowing and working, and repair historic damage; centering voices of individuals and groups who have been marginalized
Recognizing that one partner’s contribution is no more or less valuable than others’, and we need each other to have a thriving community
Working to create a society where everyone can reach their full potential, mindful of past harms and incorporating reparative action
Meaningful impact and outcomes
Partners and communities are changed for the better, reaching community-driven goals
Critically examining how what we have learned compares to what we have experienced, and incorporating learning into future plans
Valuing the dynamic exchange and growth between those involved, and recognizing that successful products or outcomes depend on strong relationships
Partnerships are built on strong relationships that can weather change and disagreement for the sake of long-term impact