University and Society
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University and Society

Interdependencies and Exchange

Edited by Ágnes Kövér and Gaby Franger

What role can the university play in the broader community or society in which it is embedded? Must it remain segregated in the halls of science and knowledge, which tower above the community? This book examines the growing number of questions and concerns around university-community relations by exploring widely accepted theories and practices and placing them under new light.
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Chapter 8: ‘Are we welcome here?’ Building trust through community based research

Margot Rawsthorne and Alison de Pree


This chapter traces the history of community engagement with an inner urban social housing community over a period of 12 years, drawing on eyewitness auto-ethnography. Through community engaged teaching, learning and research in Glebe, this chapter explores how we connect and collaborate at the local level to build trust and create mutual benefit, impact and positive change. In 2004 the University of Sydney began a tentative engagement in Glebe. The community’s response was cautious, if not hostile. Residents resisted being seen as “research subjects,” seeking instead a more mutual relationship. This chapter explores the terrain of community engagement, understanding this work as one of ongoing relationship negotiation and building. It highlights the importance of trust in transforming the relationship between the University and its local community to mutual learning, action and change. This work fits poorly into new managerial performance frameworks, which hinder the take-up of community engagement by many universities, despite rhetorical statements.

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