Survey of Civic Engagement
Campus Engage has published the first national survey that gives the higher education sector an opportunity to take a ‘snapshot' of and document civic engagement activities across Ireland.
Having invited all HEIs in Ireland to participate, twenty-four higher education institutions took up the offer. This marks the first time that a survey of this nature has been carried out, representing an initial attempt to map the range of civic engagement activities across Irish higher education. It has happened at a time when civic engagement in higher education is in its early stages of development and has provided individual higher education institutions (HEIs) with an opportunity to document and review the nature of their civic engagement activities.
It is well recognised that civic engagement represents a broad church of activities. For the purposes of this survey, Campus Engage defined civic engagement widely so as to encompass a broad range of activities using the definition: A mutually beneficial knowledge-based collaboration between the higher education institution, its staff and students, with the wider community, through community-campus partnerships and including the activities of Service Learning/Community based Learning, Community engaged research, Volunteering, Community/Economic regeneration, Capacity-building and Access/Widening participation.
This survey report is published at a particularly opportune moment, following the new emphasis on community engagement as core business in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030, which advocates that HEIs ‘deepen the quality and intensity of their relationships with the communities and regions they serve, and ensure that the emergence of new ideas can better inform community and regional development.'
The results demonstrate that there is a growing appetite and interest in Ireland for civic engagement to be formally adopted and recognised across the HEI sector. It appears from the survey that there is under-reporting of civic engagement activities. Therefore, it is necessary to gather more precise information on an ongoing basis to present a full picture, systematically "joining the dots" for future planning and implementation.
The survey shows that considerable progress has been made in Ireland to develop civic engagement, albeit with few resources and uneven manifestations of strategic vision. It also demonstrates that it is both urgent and opportune to engage in a dialogue about how to effectively embed civic engagement in higher education in Ireland.
The survey can be downloaded here.