Dr. Guiseppe Getto, Ph.D.

Outreach and Engagement

My Approach to Outreach and Engagement

Outreach and engagement is defined as the co-creation and application of knowledge. The goal is to build relationships that increase both partners’ capacity to address issues. In the past few decades, scholars within fields ranging from business to political science to the humanities have begun to gear their research, teaching, and service toward solving actual problems in their local communities. The idea behind outreach and engagement is that it is reciprocal: as university researchers uncover new problems and help solve them, community stakeholders benefit. At the same time, researchers are able to introduce valuable knowledge into their fields about how to solve similar problems. Outreach and engagement is a pragmatic, localized approach to academic work, which has traditionally been distant, neutral, and scientific. Outreach and engagement is participatory, interested, and collaborative.

An infographic on the participatory action research cycle; Published as part of "What Technical Communicators and UX Designers Can Learn From Participatory Action Research"

Image Source: http://bit.ly/1H0Y6Yr

One of my favorite methodologies for conducting engaged research is called Participatory Action Research (PAR). PAR is a research methodology that includes the following elements:

Action research integrates research and action in a series of flexible cycles involving, holistically rather than as separate steps: the collection of data about the topic of investigation; analysis and interpretation of those data; the planning and introduction of action strategies to bring about positive changes; and evaluation of those changes through further data collection, analysis and interpretation…

via: Action research: A methodology for change and development

Some of the Ways You Can Do Outreach and Engagement

There are a number of ways you can engage in participatory, collaborative work with the people you serve. This can include:

  • Create a research project with a local organization in which one of the main goals of the project is to help solve a problem that both you and the people in the organization are interested in solving.
  • Teach a service-learning course that helps a local organization solve a problem that relates to the subject matter of the course.
  • Create a service project that enables you to serve a local cause through a form of expertise you possess (i.e. web design, fundraising, hanging drywall, etc.).
  • Create a partnership between your business and a local non-profit or cause that is mutually beneficial (i.e., providing free services in exchange for being featured in their newsletter as a partner).
  • In general: help solve a problem within your community or organization by building relationships that don’t already exist.

Some Resources on Outreach and Engagement

Outreach and Engagement at Michigan State University
Tools of Engagement at Michigan State University
Community Engagement and Research at East Carolina University
Leadership and Service-Learning at East Carolina University
A list of scholarly publications on engaged scholarship in a variety of fields
A list of publication outlets for engaged scholarship
My list of service-learning resources