Community Campus as Threshold: A Space of Dialogue for Academia and the Community
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This paper explores an argument for community-situated spaces of encounter – acting as thresholds – between community and academia, through which: learning can be enhanced; a greater sense of identity and efficacy can be fostered; and a defined agency can be enabled. This proposition prioritises a dialogic relationship in a shared ground of agency and discourse, whose potential is reinforced through a rediscovery of the local arising from the Covid pandemic. The rediscovery of the local has pushed civic-minded universities pre-existing interrogation of their community-based learning practice in the context of marginalised communities; a key challenge is how to foster a dialogic relationship with a community when academia is not really part of the community? A concurrent question considers the spatiality of such practice? Proposed here is a situating of the civic university directly within the community offering opportunity for everyday dialogue on and experience of local life. This proposal re-sites the university’s civic initiatives outside the academy in community-based campuses. Central to this campus would be the coming together of the community and academia to envision and action joined-up approaches to multivalent issues. This initiative would simultaneously afford an innovative education while enabling students and staff to contribute to the wider community; at the same time the community campus would serve as an active agent in bringing the community together and reshaping its future. The community campus would act as a dialogic threshold between academia and the community, a space grounded in its social nature, mutual embrace and exchange.
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