“Community engagement: collaboration between higher education institutions and their larger communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.”
This year, I got the opportunity to serve as an international Atlas Corps Fellow at Northwestern University’s Buffett Institute for Global Studies. The Buffett Institute provides funding opportunities for students interested in global engagement and service learning. Through this fellowship, I’ve discovered an entire world of global service learning filled with faculty, students and practitioners from developed and developing countries seeking answers to their own ‘why’s’, constantly conversing and analysing the history and future of development. Interestingly, I find that even in the world of academia, the prioritization of the voice of the community within global engagement is a movement that has only recently emerged as a need.
The Carnegie Foundation defines community engagement as “collaboration between higher education institutions and their larger communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.”
The Buffett Institute realizes the importance of collaboration within community engagement and shares these progressive values with students within its sphere. The concept of incorporating design thinking and human-centric design education where students(being future practitioners), learn to critically understand “the other” as a collaborator and expert in their own right is important towards achieving vision 2030. The work of the Buffett Institute in preparing students interested in undertaking projects across the developing world,to think collaboratively, not only represents a paradigm shift within global engagement but also a positive step towards sustainable development and vision 2030 by next-gen practitioners.