Academics and Practitioners of Civic Engagement Come Together in Australia

Engagement Australia Conference canvaTalloires Network program manager Amy Newcomb Rowe attended the 12th Annual Engagement Australia Conference in Sydney on July 19-22, 2015. Sponsored by CQUniversity and Federation University of Australia, the premier annual event convened international academics and practitioners from several universities and organizations, including many of the 25 national members from all over Australia.

Participatory workshops on Essentials of Community Engagement and Engaging With Influence featured the work of Lucy Cole-Edelstein and Michelle Feenan from the International Association for Public Participation. Program sessions included research presentations on topics such as social justice, access to education, exploring the shadow side of engagement, new technologies, and regional innovation systems. A favourite by many was the Stories of Engagement session in which participants were given 5-10 minutes to share engaged practices from their institutions.

The gathering highlighted a new publication Knowledge in Action: University-Community Engagement in Australia, edited by Isabelle Bartkowiak-Theron and Kathryn Anderson, who presented a panel discussion with Diana Whitton and Valentine Mukuria both from University of Western Sydney.

Throughout the week there were many lively exchanges and provocative discussions about how new technologies are effecting community engagement practices both in and out of the classroom. One of the keynote speakers was Dan Butin, Associate Professor and Founding Dean of the School of Education and Social Policy at Merrimack College and the Executive Director of the Center for Engaged Democracy, who spoke on knowledge exchange and the hype-cycle of innovation, and the benefit of new technologies to power education reform in the 21st century. Read more on Dan Butin’s blog post.

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