Strategy on Community Engagement
In parliamentary or other public discussions on higher education, the goals of universities are often laid out in three interconnected strands: education, research, and community engagement. Community engagement is closely related to what is called the social responsibility or “service” of universities as their “third mission.” This role of universities is central to the educational experience of students and to the commitment of universities to wider society. There are many dimensions of the role of service . The most important service universities render to society is the quantity and quality of their graduates. Also the contribution of research to regional and national economic development is highly relevant. This includes collaboration with regional and national governments and industry to improve technology, assistance to industry to improve practice, support for the integration of new technologies, and the direction of new knowledge towards societal advancement (see the following section).
Universities use different models for the “soft side” of the third mission for civic and community involvement of students and their social entrepreneurship. These contribute to the social responsibility of graduates while at the same time improving the quality of life for different sectors of society. The importance of engaging higher education students through broad-based participation in civic society for the development of the skills and attitudes of socially responsible graduates is achieved through curriculum and related projects. For this to succeed, it is crucial that university staff members are committed to the notion of socially responsible and highly productive graduates.