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This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book focuses on community-university research partnerships rather than the broader community-university engagement. It looks at the variety of structures that have been created in the various universities and civil society research organizations to facilitate and enhance research partnerships. The book provides evidence of the impact of community-university research partnerships on the curriculum in several higher education institutions (HEIs). It talks about the policy dance that community-university research partnerships are engaged in, by looking at the work of the European science shop movement. The book offers some thoughts on the future of community-university research partnerships within the context of a knowledge democracy movement. It is an evaluation framework for partnership research that has emerged from important work in Quebec.
This book is based on a three-year international comparative study on poverty reduction and sustainability strategies . It provides evidence from twenty case studies around the world on the power and potential of community and higher education based scholars and activists working together in the co-creation of transformative knowledge. Opening with a theoretical overview of knowledge, democracy and action, the book is followed by analytical chapters providing lessons learned and capacity building, and on the theory and practice of community university research partnerships. It also includes lessons on models of evaluation, approaches to measuring the impact and an agenda for future research and policy recommendations. The book overviews the concept of engaged scholarship and then moves to focus on community-university research partnerships. It is based on a global empirical study of the role of community-university research partnerships within the context of poverty alleviation, the creation of sustainable societies and, broadly speaking, the Millennium Development Goals. The book frames the contribution of community-university research partnerships within a larger knowledge democracy framework, linking this practice to other spaces of knowledge democracy. These include the open access movement, new acceptance of the methods of community-based and participatory research and the call for cognitive justice or the need for epistemologies of the Global South. It takes a particular look at the variety of structures that have been created in the various universities and civil society research organizations to facilitate and enhance research partnerships.
Community-university research partnerships can be critically important locations of transformative energy in the larger effort to understand and use knowledge and its construction and co-construction in ways that are authentically linked to the struggles of people for a better world. The global neo-liberal economic agenda that has produced a kind of market utopia has been supported by a canon of western, largely male, elite knowledge systems and practices. The field of community-university research and engagement partnerships represents just one of the elements in an emerging knowledge democracy movement. The longer-term prospects of the world economy pose their own set of challenges to civil society and to knowledge partnerships. As the new economic powers of China, Brazil and other nations continue their ascendance, and as the West struggles to regain its economic equilibrium, universities and communities across the world will face new threats and opportunities in their work together.