You’re Getting Two For One With Me: Difficult New Sites Of Community Engagement Leadership Within Higher Education
Keywords:Carnegie Community Engagement Classification pilots, community engagement professionals, Australian and Canadian higher education
The emerging literature on community engagement professionals (Dostilio), who occupy a 'third space' (Whitchurch) between academics and professionals within higher education, has helped construct a potentially unifying identity among staff leading community engagement activity within contemporary post-secondary institutions. This presentation critically engages this literature, and profiles the professional identities of Australian and Canadian postsecondary staff leading the adaptation and adoption of the elective Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement in their institutions. Drawing from interview data of 15 staff responsible for the Carnegie Pilot within their institutions across both Australia and Canada, and employing a narrative inquiry method sensitive to feminist analyses of power and institutional misrecognition (Fraser), we probe the tensions and frustrations of those leading the work of community engagement. We find that although exercising considerable leadership of academic engagement functions, these staff, regardless of their own more hybridized identities as practitioner-scholars or 'prac-academics', are often misrecognized through institutional designations as professional staff. Two staff portraits in particular highlight two sources of misrecognition: gender intersecting with race, and from the relegation of community engagement to an external relations function that runs parallel to the core academic purposes of the institution. The Carnegie Pilots in Canada and Australia represent a valuable attempt to institutionalize community engagement as the critical third mission of higher education. Yet the experiences of these staff also attest to an ambivalence about community engagement within the academy, and the people leading this work, particularly in the most research-intensive and most established universities in each nation.
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