Community Engagement

May 6, 2019

Executive Summary of the UW in Seattle’s findings for Carnegie: a rich ecosystem of community engagement

In spring 2017 the UW in Seattle committed to apply for the Carnegie Foundation’s 2020 elective Community-Engaged Campus classification. This effort, also undertaken separately by UW Bothell and UW Tacoma, has embraced both the wide-ranging community-engaged work happening across campus and the critical opportunity of a systematic assessment of policies, practices and partnerships to examine and address areas of strength and opportunities for improvement, in support of the UW’s vision to “be the world’s greatest public university, as measured by impact.”

The Carnegie Working Group for the UW in Seattle kicked off in January 2018, was charged by President Cauce to:

  • Uncover and share activities related to community engagement across campus;
  • Advise on assessment, evaluation, and narrative development required by the application;
  • Advocate for the self-assessment process within individual units and beyond; and
  • Develop strategies and recommendations to build on community engagement on campus.

To leverage the self-assessment process toward achieving these objectives, Working Group members were selected by deans and directors from each of the colleges, schools and primary central units. The Working Group met monthly to gather and assess data, discuss patterns and gaps, and identify areas of excellence and room for growth. In addition, Working Group co-chairs hosted three “community coffees,” inviting community partners to share their perspectives of the benefits and challenges in engaging with the UW in Seattle. Working Group co-chairs also met regularly UW Bothell and UW Tacoma Carnegie self-assessment leaders, to share information and insights on campus-based and institution-wide community engagement. Key learnings from these efforts informed both the assessment and the recommendations.  Finally, the Community Engagement Steering Committee (CESC) was re-charged in June 2018 with goals that align with and build on the Carnegie Working Group’s charge. Working Group co-chairs joined CESC conversations and shared progress and insights throughout the 2018-19 academic year.

Given the depth and breadth of community engagement across campus, the Working Group focused on understanding the UW in Seattle’s community engagement through representative, rather than comprehensive, identification of efforts. Even with this focus, over 600 current examples of community engagement were documented, dozens of which are represented in the assessment. Examples span all units, engage across multiple spatial scales, and involve faculty, staff, students and community partners in a variety of models.

Patterns and examples within this rich, collaborative ecosystem include:

  • Partnerships with underserved populations and American Indian/Alaska Native communities, such as the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute that supports the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples to health and wellness as it practices and develops leading-edge community-based participatory research;
  • Longstanding and reciprocal research-practice collaborations shaping policy and decision-making on climate, health, income, housing, and more;
  • Robust citizen science such as the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, a place-based, rigorous program advancing science literacy and collective agency in marine resource management from California to the Chukchi Sea;
  • Dedicated partnerships to prepare students and to address challenges in the education system, including Unite:Ed, which supports youth, and especially children of color, by expanding their opportunities to learn;
  • Community-based design, planning and building, from Livable City Year to other long-standing efforts in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District and communities across the globe;
  • Community-engaged health research, learning and service, from the Community-Oriented Public Health Practice degree program to the projects fostered by the Population Health Initiative that employ community-driven research to advance the health of people around the world;
  • Place-based commitments such as Othello-UW Commons, a learning and collaboration space for faculty, staff, students and community partners that embraces the UW’s commitment to learning from and with local communities.

The assessment for the Carnegie Community-Engaged Campus classification made plain the UW in Seattle is a community-engaged institution through its commitments to student success, faculty productivity, and institutional investment in and accountability to societal challenges. It foregrounded the campus’ dedication to equity through engagement, and highlighted areas of growth for the campus, including tracking and assessment as well as faculty and student development pathways.

The Working Group continues through June 2019 as we share the assessment with campus and community partners, provide data to the CESC and other campus entities, and further develop recommendations for the CESC to build on regarding improving meaningful and reciprocal community engagement across the campus. We are inspired by efforts at the UW in Seattle and are excited to have enabled, for the first time, a systemic view of the outcomes, supports and hindrances to such efforts. We look forward to seeing the assessment operationalized to further uphold the UW’s vision for equity and impact.