Distributing leadership for initiating university-community engagement

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Hudson, P, Hudson, S & Craig, R 2006, 'Distributing leadership for initiating university-community engagement' Australian Universities Community Engagement Alliance Refereed National Conference Proceedings 2006: Embedding University Community Engagement: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Perth, WA, 12-14 July, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, WA, pp. 79-90.

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Facilitating community engagement in education is promoted and emphasised as an investment strategy (Garlick 2000). However, the responsibility for facilitating university-community engagement rests upon university personnel to initiate collaborations with the community. This paper describes and analyses leadership processes for initiating community engagement with the new Queensland University of Technology campus at Caboolture. Data collection and analysis involved observation of practices, and coding interviews, minutes of meetings, and written correspondence with a wide range of participants (i.e., senior QUT staff, lecturers, preservice teachers, principals, school executives and teachers, and other community members). Results indicated that leadership processes involved: (1) articulating visionary directions, (2) communication for instigating change processes, (3) motivating potential key stakeholders, (4) promoting collaboration and team effort, and (5) distributing leadership. This study highlighted the impact of creating positive working environments for developing collaborative partnerships. However, new campuses need to shape university goals to suit individual contexts, which will require considerable input from key stakeholders. Initiating community engagement requires university personnel to connect key stakeholders, and the distribution of leadership will be essential in order to sustain university-community collaborations.