"Collaborating with a community organization provides the opportunity for graduate students and faculty to immerse in learning aspects of their professional field through active practice and connected knowing".
Community Contribution and Responsibility (CCR), as the Education Strategy 2021 (Executive Summary) highlights, is increasingly visible within the corporate world. Higher Education has a responsibility to prepare students to become active and effective contributors of the university community and beyond. Coventry's definition of community is wide-reaching. It encompasses three main groups:
- the university community that students' are a part of regardless of whether they are studying on campus or elsewhere
- the local and regional community that we impact during the students' period of study and in the future
- the professional community that graduates will be part of
The aim is to continue to foster a sense of global citizenship and future thinking. That way, communities can benefit through the inclusion of learning activities and activities that have an impact on sustainability issues; environmental stewardship; disability awareness; social justice; corporate social responsibility; ethics and well-being.
The learning experiences we create matter. These educational experiences have meaning across a number of important areas within our local and global communities. Students want to be involved as learners and ask for guided opportunities to make a difference to both the community and the environment during their period of study. That is our challenge! How can we continue to design and refresh learning experiences so that they make a real difference? How can we ensure that our courses and the learning experiences equip graduates for the future enabling them to contribute to society and solve issues?
Opportunities exist to connect communities, those of learning and practice, formed between students, academics, professional services staff and employers. Course teams play a pivotal role in bringing these groups of people together. Through this a variety of colleagues are able to work as a team to build lifelong relationships between the university and our students. The role of alumni, especially introducing this from the first year of study, is an example of keeping communities connected, learning and sharing. Another is involving service users in course design, delivery, recruitment and activities. Together academics, professional staff and students are a real strength bringing good practice from across the university group to learning experiences, activities and work. Providing participatory experiences for all courses is a key element for CCR and these experiences have the potential to bring about positive changes as well as being motivational for learners.
As members of the community, students are expected to understand their responsibility to actively contribute towards a more sustainable future as they embark on and complete their programme of study. Course teams are able to help students do this by providing relevant opportunities and assisting learners to know where to find these as well as understand the value of actively engaging in activities that matter more widely. For example, extra-curricular activities and volunteering can be utilised to develop skills and experiences. Activities that employers find valuable and that remain relevant after students' complete their study are important inclusions in the learning experience. Involving student representatives bodies, societies and the local community can help maximise the opportunities available. Additionally, including elements of professional standards or practice education in postgraduate courses connects learners with other communities, widens opportunities and networks.
Coventry University intends to continue to be recognised locally, nationally and internationally by strategic business partners and governments as an enterprising and innovative University. It builds on the success of developing large-scale strategic business partnerships and connects to the Enterprise and Innovation strategy. Continuing to develop large-scale initiatives with key partner companies and other organisations, both in the UK and overseas, is another way of linking CCR to the creation of learning experiences that make a difference and are far reaching.
These show some of the ways in which CCR can be incorporated into practice and through the design of learning experiences. Activities, work and projects that enable students to become involved in making a real difference in the world as learners and future professionals. This page provides links to resources that can be used by individuals and course teams to generate ideas and spark creative thinking. Ideas that result in educational experiences that are inspirational, meaningful, authentic and that have a wider reach. Ones which make a real differences to communities and people during as well as beyond the programme of study.