University Public Engagement Standards

Historically, University of Connecticut has used the phrases “public engagement” and “community engagement” interchangeably across the various campuses. Regardless of the term used, University of Connecticut has been committed to assuring the highest community engagement standards in all aspects of University life and in all University and University-sponsored activities. In 2006, UConn was the first Connecticut institution of higher education to create a Code of Conduct, which was later revised and updated in 2011. “Public engagement” is a key pillar of this fundamental document, as it is of UConn’s mission and their core values. Crafting the Code of Conduct, including the definition of public engagement, involved a comprehensive joint effort by a representative group of qualified faculty, administrators, and staff across all University units. This document went through an extensive review process across the University prior to being submitted to the Board of Trustees for ultimate approval. From that day forward, the definition and standards of public engagement and outreach as specified in the Code of Conduct have been used to enforce the highest standards of workplace behavior that the University expects of all faculty, administrators, and staff. It is also used to state publicly the University’s long-term commitment to the highest standards of integrity in education, research, healthcare, public engagement, and service and to assure that faculty, administrators, and staff understand their shared responsibility for keeping the University in full compliance with all applicable laws, regulations, and policies.

Public Engagement and Outreach Standards

The primary purpose of public engagement is to serve external constituents in a manner that leads to enhanced teaching and research. Public engagement efforts impact on the reputation of the University. Engaged scholarship, as a component of public engagement, results from public engagement and outreach. It focuses on those activities that promote advanced understanding and creative works in a mutually beneficial manner. Public engagement, which includes outreach and public service, consists of all activities where the University offers its resources, both human and physical, to external constituencies in such a manner where there is a partnership or that engaged scholarship results. These efforts are on behalf of the public good and not for private gain. The term University resource refers to those activities and entities that the University makes available to its various constituencies which may involve a cost to access.

As a land and sea grant university, the University of Connecticut is committed to our mission that includes public engagement as measured by the impact of teaching and research on the world outside of the insitution. In the spirit of true partnership, we seek to expand our interactions with groups beyond our campuses in areas of mutual concern and enhance their access to the resources available at the University. In addition to collaborations in the arts and humanities, we encourage constructive partnerships in new areas of interdisciplinary excellence, such as Health and Human Behavior, the Environment, and Human Rights. Through broadened access and reciprocal interaction, we realize synergistic outcomes that further strengthen the University and benefit the people of Connecticut as well as those beyond the state borders.

  • We believe the reputation of the University is tied to its responsiveness to the needs of the citizens and communities of the State.
  • We reach out to and engage communities in reciprocal partnerships.
  • We are respectful of our community members, demonstrate cultural competence in their interactions, and comply with University policies while engaged in and with communities, just as we would on campus.
  • We strive for responsible engaged scholarship and community-based programs to the benefit of communities by involving our partners in the planning, execution, and dissemination of the knowledge gained by such programs.
  • We translate and disseminate research results to real world applications to address problems.
  • We recognize and respect the knowledge and behaviors of our partners as we work in a collaborative environment.
  • We effectively communicate these standards and values with the organization.
  • We actively engage students in community experiences as part of our service learning priority.

Practical Considerations for Public Engagement and Outreach Principles and Standards

  • Have I ensured that the public engagement effort is consistent with the University’s mission and vision?
  • How do I solicit input regarding community needs when designing, planning, and conducting my engaged scholarship or community-based project?
  • How can I work with community members as equal and collaborative partners in all phases of the project, from planning to dissemination of findings, and avoid the perception of using the group for my gain?
  • How do I handle the findings of my work to ensure confidentiality when appropriate?
  • Am I culturally sensitive to the diverse needs of community members and partners, starting with the selection and training of my University team members?
  • How can I prioritize considerations of diversity when designing, planning, and conducting my community-based research or program, identify any barriers to participation, and work to ameliorate or eliminate such barriers?
  • How will my actions reflect how the University is viewed in the community?
  • How do I manage, use and share resources of the University in a manner that is respectful to partners?
  • How do I teach and engage my students in the work of the community as they apply classroom learning to real world situations?