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UMN hosts systemwide event on building effective University-community partnerships

Michelle Hoedeman

Earlier this month, University of Minnesota practitioners, faculty, and researchers and community-serving organizations from four of the University’s five campuses gathered at an inaugural summer institute designed to help participants develop authentic and effective University-community partnerships.

Titled “Building Authentic Partnerships to Conduct Mutually Beneficial Work,” the July 11–12 event that took place on the University’s St. Paul campus, featured panel discussions, practice sessions, and interactive exercises.

Participants learned about the basics of building partnerships, received guidance on how to make sense of diverse systems of knowledge and experience, and heard about how diverse knowledge systems are put into practice. In addition, interactive exercises gave them a chance to sharpen interpersonal skills, partnership-building skills, mindsets, and competencies. They also shared their impressions about this pilot event and how it may be improved and expanded for next summer.

Four University units collaborated to plan and co-sponsor the summer institute: the Office for Public Engagement (OPE), University of Minnesota of Extension, the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and the College of Liberal Arts' Liberal Arts Engagement Hub.

“There’s a growing hunger for professional development in public engagement as universities across the country increasingly embrace the benefits of community-engaged partnerships,” said event co-organizer Professor David Weerts, faculty director of academic planning and programs for OPE. “While the University of Minnesota is a leader in community-engaged scholarship, with input from our community partners, we are excited to learn from and build upon the summer institute concept in the coming years.”