At Southern Cross University we consider community engagement to be a collaborative process that connects the University with communities of all scales in a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge, expertise and experience in the context of partnership, trust, respect and reciprocity. Through engagement with our communities we create inspiring student learning experiences, innovative and relevant research, and ultimately, stronger and more vibrant communities and regions.
At Southern Cross University, community engagement is positioned as a scholarly method through which we create future ready graduates and research that is relevant to the needs of our communities and the challenges of the future. It is a critical component of academic practice at SCU and is recognised and celebrated through at our annual Excellence in Community Engagement Awards. The founding act of the University describes a principal function as being "the provision of courses of study or instruction across a range of fields, and the carrying out of research, to meet the needs of the community" (NSW Government. (1993). Southern Cross University Act 1993. Section 6.2(c)).
Community engagement at Southern Cross University incorporates both citizenship and scholarship activities. Overall, community engagement can be evaluated in terms of process and impact. The process of community engagement involves building capacity, responding to identified needs, and working in partnership. The impact of community engagement is assessed through clarifying relevance, scholarly outputs, receptiveness, satisfaction, and mutual benefit.
Scholarly community engagement activity is an important element of each of the four forms of Scholarship, in particular the Scholarship of Application. This type of activity positions the process of involvement, partnership and extension of academic practice through community engagement as a critical aspect of scholarship. It positions social problems and their community contexts as the site for scholarly investigation.
Citizenship activity is considered to be service. It is evaluated in terms of your civic contribution as an academic to the community, the University and your professions. Service itself is a subset of community engagement.
The community engagement activities of the University should reflect its mission. The University's Mission incorporates a strong commitment to regional Australia and the central role it plays in contributing to sustainability within its regional footprint. SCU aspires to be an 'engaged university' where its engagement with its surrounding communities is based on a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and expertise.
Southern Cross University is a founding member of Engagement Australia, the peak body for promoting university-community engagement in Australia.