Back Row (from left): Gul Zehra (Pakistan), Syed Irtiza (Pakistan), Liam Roberts (UK), Megan LeClus (Australia), Crystal Tremblay (Canada), Darren Lortan (South Africa), Andrew Seligsohn (USA), Neil Johnson (UK), Dalia Hamed (Egypt) Front Row (from left): Amy Rowe (US), Andrew Furco (US), Kate Morris (Ireland), Nelly Corbel (Egypt), Ernestine Meyer-Adams (South Africa), Imran Ho Abdulla (Malaysia), Maria Nieves Tapia (Argentina), Lorraine McIlrath (Ireland), Pilar Aramburuzabala (Spain), Rantimi Oluwasegun (US)
In December 2014, leaders from the National and Regional Networks met during the Talloires Network Leaders Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. Countries represented at the gathering were: Australia, Canada, Egypt, England, Ireland, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Africa, Spain, and USA.
During the World Café session, each leader shared the history and humble beginnings of their regional and national network, and identified three key elements of what is working well. During the discussion and brainstorming, many new ideas were presented on how networks can collaboratively and democratically strengthen university roles in community engagement. Topics ranged from engaged research, institutional reform, and new technologies to cultural meanings of civic engagement, language and terminology, and impact on human development.
The national and regional networks are keen to find affinities among their many groups and activities. Key to working together is creating strong communication links and diligently exchanging ideas and resources. Each network meets at least once annually to collect good practices and support strategic planning for the future. When asked to give advice from their experience, leaders replied with the following,
“Don’t be afraid to be where the policy-makers are meeting.”
“Obtain leadership support and buy-in to achieve your goals.”
“Facilitate government and community leaders interaction.”
“Have inclusive and accessible materials to help promote and find supports for your work.”
“Universities are not homogenous; get all actors on board.”
Looking ahead, the networks identified top priorities for the future,
Increase the involvement of policy-makers, community partners and youth
Increase work with international organizations like UN
Create a global platform to discuss terminology, ideas and cultural meanings of civic engagement
Improve research using new technologies
Create a global membership survey and database of projects