In collaboration with Public Scholarship and Engagement (PSE), the Center for Regional Change connected with a diverse group of non-university constituents who operate at the local, regional, and state levels to gather feedback about public engagement.1
Here are themes that emerged from these focus groups:
- 1. Institutional Representation and Personal Relationships
- • UC Davis is a renowned university that produces top tier research, and this reputation carries significant weight when partnering with community groups. UC Davis has the potential to leverage its reputation to elevate the community voice and validate community knowledge, experiences, and perspectives.
• Positive experiences with the university have been built on personal relationships with research centers, faculty, staff, and students. These relationships have been directly beneficial to community partners’ work, and there remains a desire to engage more in this capacity.
- 2. Improving Collaboration, Communication, and Coordination
- • The scale of existing partnerships between UC Davis and the community seems disproportionate to the university’s capacity. Community partners seek and desire a significantly deeper and broader level of engagement, leaving untapped potential to partner and engage in a robust and meaningful way.
• The communities that UC Davis intends to serve and engage is not clearly identified. Without a visible presence and increased commitment to the variety of geographic communities within the university’s sphere of influence, e.g., City of Davis, Oak Park neighborhood, City of Sacramento, the six-county region, a disconnect will remain between the university and its constituents.
• Points of entry for university collaborations are unclear and barriers exists when pursuing new projects and partnerships. Navigating the bureaucracy is challenging and community constituents are often unaware of what resources UC Davis has to offer.
Here are the priorities of non-university groups:
- 1. Accountability
- Make certain that public engagement is authentic, deliberate, and embedded in the university’s vision/mission. Create long-term, established public engagement activities with guaranteed funding. Ensure action and follow-through from leadership at the highest level to demonstrate UC Davis’ commitment to public engagement.
- 2. Mutually-Beneficial Partnerships
- Establish shared goals between UC Davis and the surrounding communities. Focus on engaging and supporting at-risk communities, people of color, and system-impacted populations such as individuals who have been involved with criminal justice, foster care, and similar institutional systems.
- 3. Incentives
- Offer incentives for faculty to incorporate community engagement into their research and teaching, while providing incentives for community constituents to partner with the university.
- 1. A total of six focus groups were conducted in the Sacramento region with a range of community stakeholders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Over 100 individuals participated in this process, with representation from more than 60 organizations.