The university and the city: how to really step down from our ivory towers and engage with citizens (reporting from the EUPRIO Mobility Programme)

Pieke Hoekstra, Euprio Conference Poznan 2019 speaker

Pieke Hoekstra - The Netherlands

Pieke Hoekstra, Head of Community engagement & Outreach at Technische Universiteit Delft is a creative and positive professional. She is deeply curious about different people’s thoughts, work and ideas and have a strong belief that if we help each other we achieve greater things. Her current job is to connect the university to the city and work towards being a real civic university.

Summary
This workshop will share the outcomes of our EMP exchange on how to improve community engagement, work together with researchers and students to bridge the communication gap with local communities, and to root the university in the city.

Full description
In times of increased focus on research impact, universities sooner or later discover the possibilities in their sometimes overlooked backyards. The city a university resides in has a wealth of real-life questions and challenges that could provide researchers with field labs, students with community engagement and learning experiences, and so much more. The new insights that researchers and students could gain by working with and talking to citizens from all walks of life could prove to be invaluable.

However, this perfect relationship doesn’t occur naturally or by chance. There may be barriers between a university and its citizens that we would rather didn’t exist. But at some point, the university Board, the local authority or even some researchers or students might be interested in cooperating more to find ways of engaging with our local communities. But how can we do this, and are citizens ready to engage with us? Across Europe, some institutions have come a long way in developing their engagement strategy and there are some great examples of community engagement.

In this workshop we will:

  • Share best practice for local/community engagement
  • Show how researchers and students can bridge the communication gap with local communities
  • Show the benefits of research communication and how the university can be rooted in its city
  • Discuss what level of community engagement your university is currently on
  • Discuss why university communications teams do or don’t engage locally