The role of universities in the 'cultural health' of their regions: universities' and regions' understandings of cultural engagement

Doyle, L. (2010) The role of universities in the 'cultural health' of their regions: universities' and regions' understandings of cultural engagement. European Journal of Education, 45(3), pp. 466-480. (doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3435.2010.01441.x)

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As Arbo and Benneworth (2007) have alerted us, higher education institutions are now expected not only to conduct education and research, but also to play an active role in the development of their economic, social and cultural surroundings. They call this the ‘regional mission’ of HEIs. This paper is concerned with cultural engagement. Research on universities’ cultural engagement in their regions and the impact of that engagement is still in its infancy, partly because there are different understandings of ‘culture’ and of what ‘engagement’ entails. In this paper, qualitative data from the reports of mixed teams of academics and regional administrators involved in a large international project designed to improve universities’ regional engagement are analysed and discussed. The on-going study — PASCAL Universities' Regional Engagement (PURE) — investigates the role of HEIs in their regions across in a variety of fields such as the economy, community development, the environment and others. This article analyses the data from the study to identify the different perspectives universities and regions have of cultural engagement. The aim here is to demonstrate the value of PURE in facilitating the development of mutual understanding both between universities through a common language and between universities and their regions in respect of mutual expectations. For example, particularly difficult to de-construct is universities’ engagement with disadvantaged communities (Doyle, 2007) but Powell's (2009) work suggests that universities might engage more broadly and effectively ‘through better knowledge sharing and co-creation with business and community partners’ to become ‘real drivers of creative change in developing socially inclusive projects’. Others have written about the educational role of universities in developing a ‘lifelong learning culture’ in their region (European Universities’ Charter on Lifelong Learning, 2008).

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Special Issue: Building European Learning Cities and Regions
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Doyle, Dr Lesley
Authors: Doyle, L.
Subjects:L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Social Justice Place and Lifelong Education
College of Social Sciences > School of Education > People, Place & Social Change
Journal Name:European Journal of Education
ISSN (Online):1465-3435
Published Online:30 July 2010

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