Universities around the world are successfully engaging their communities, and also looking for other examples. In March 2012, the Talloires Network (TN) launched the Leaders in the Civic Engagement Movement series. The aim of the series was to learn from experienced leaders and share their insights and knowledge of university civic engagement with others. The inaugural article featured Janice Reid, then TN Steering Committee Vice-Chair and University of Western Sydney Vice-Chancellor.
For more than a year, we interviewed a TN Steering Committee member, wrote an article and featured their leadership in the TN monthly newsletter. In doing so, we learned that university civic engagement is driven and shaped by societal values, such as good citizenship, social responsibility, and social solidarity. Though there is significant variation with regard to terminology across and within different regions of the globe, the larger story is one of common cause and vision. Numerous interviewees affirmed that university civic engagement is indeed a growing global movement.
While the leadership of university vice-chancellors, rectors and presidents is essential, the lion’s share of higher education civic engagement work is done by university administrators, faculty, staff and students as well as community and funding partners. In November 2013, we expanded the Leaders in the Civic Engagement Movement series by interviewing several leaders in a single country each month and taking advantage of the variety of leaders actively involved in TN programs and activities. The articles were accompanied by background research on national contexts and member institutions.
To date, we have interviewed and written articles about the experience of 61 leaders at 26 universities in 17 countries. Each interviewee has been asked the following questions: Why are you committed to civic engagement? What civic engagement achievements at your university are you proudest of? How did you and your colleagues accomplish these? In which areas have you struggled or been less influential than you had hoped? Have any civic engagement initiatives failed? Why? Where you’ve had difficulty/what barriers mitigated or prevented your efforts? What do you want the global movement of civic engagement in higher education to look like in the future? What are the greatest opportunities? Challenges?
In celebration of the TNLC 2014, we invite you to read this report by downloading the full collection of articles. We also invite you to enjoy the slide show on display in the foyer at Spier. Interviewed leaders appear by country, in alphabetical order. Our salute to TN leaders is dedicated to the memory of a pioneering leader and champion of university civic engagement, Former Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University, Professor Russel Botman.
Lorlene Hoyt and Amy Newcomb Rowe