Reports and Newsletters

An Engagement Model Linking University and Communities (June 2002)


Booth, C., Bokemeier, J., Farrell, P.

During boom times or economic downturns, political crises or periods of calm, American families face exceptional social pressures as they strive to build or sustain a healthy, viable quality of life for themselves, their children, and their communities. While families and communities search for solutions to complex social issues, universities, too, must reexamine their approaches to discovery, learning, and engagement, and forge new collaborations that address public concerns and needs.

A coalition at Michigan State University called Families and Communities Together (FACT) responds to such needs. FACT promotes innovative, multidisciplinary research, outreach, and engagement by strategically investing in competitive and targeted grants for campus and community research collaborations. The work of the FACT coalition and its partners has validated the importance of multidisciplinary, collaborative work in addressing complex community needs and social issues. Faculty members bring specific knowledge and analytical expertise. Communities contribute their understanding of local issues, policies, institutional patterns, and locally tested strategies. Such teams are exceptionally good at identifying critical issues, developing appropriate projects with sustained community impacts, and attracting extramural funds for expanded programs.