Campus Engage is a national initiative working with 17 higher education institutions to enable and embed civic and community engagement activity across campuses and communities in Ireland. This publication highlights some of the great work being carried out across campus and communities in Ireland. It was produced to mark the official signing of Campus Engage Charter for Civic and Community Engagement by 20 higher education presidents on the 16 June, 2014.
Hundreds of community-based organisations currently work with the staff and students of our higher education institutions. Through practical experience this enables students, across all disciplines, to obtain ‘work ready’ skills which will meet the needs of Irish community-services employers. It also a shapes the teaching and learning experience of real community needs. In addition, Campus Engage promotes new knowledge exchange between academic, community service providers, policy makers, and the public. Community-based research, teaching and learning and volunteering presents opportunities for students to test acquired knowledge and skills and increase the depth of their academic experience. It allows scope for ‘real life’ problem solving, and critical thinking in a community work place. Accredited, experiential learning acquired through community-based research, community-based learning and volunteering builds transferable, applied ‘work ready skills’. On a personal level, community-based activities increase learners’ sense of personal achievement and wellbeing. Surveys and reviews have shown that volunteers report lower levels of depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced well-being.
In terms of civic responsibility, community engagement increases understanding of the facets of community-service, social justice, diversity, empathy and social responsibility. It encourages citizenship skills and greater involvement in community service after graduation.