Shaping how universities can be “truly civic”

Staffordshire University has been selected to take part in a programme to accelerate the impact it is having in its community.

Table with sheets of paper pens and post it notes

StaffsCAN launched last year to strengthen University's links with voluntary and community partners

Locally, the programme will help us strengthen StaffsCAN and share knowledge and ideas with other universities across England to shape the national picture of civic impact.

Nic Gratton, Associate Professor of Community and Civic Engagement

The National Civic Impact Accelerator Action Learning Programme (ALP) will see 12 civic university partnerships working together to address challenges in developing civic engagement and co-creating innovative solutions.

As well as transforming the work of all involved, the ALP will also generate learning for others working in place-based networks across the country.

Staffordshire University Associate Professor of Community and Civic Engagement Nic Gratton said: “We are delighted to have been successful in our application to the NCIA action learning programme. Staffordshire University has worked closely with our civic and civil partners in recent years to help make Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire a great place to live, work and study.”

Last year the University launched StaffsCAN (Community Advisory Network) to strengthen its links with local voluntary and community partners. It has also implemented a university-wide approach to measuring the difference it makes through its work with communities.

Nic added: “Being part of the NCIA Action Learning Programme will build on our work by providing us with an opportunity to reflect on our progress and challenges and help us identify how we can better work with our community and civic partners for the good of our place.

“Locally, the programme will help us strengthen StaffsCAN and share knowledge and ideas with other universities across England to shape the national picture of civic impact.”

The ALP partnerships were chosen to ensure the programme had a good geographical reach across the country and involved people and partnerships at different stages of their civic journey.

Sophie Duncan, co-director of the The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) which is leading the three year programme, said: “There is significant expertise within civic university partnerships, but also a range of specific challenges impeding progress. An action learning approach will enable innovation and generate insight into how to tackle these challenges and put new ways of working into practice.

Adam Leach, NCIA Programme Director at Sheffield Hallam University, added: Their efforts will generate valuable learning and insights and help answer the question of how universities can become truly civic. I’m really excited to see the impact of this programme for higher education and communities across the country.”

The partnerships will join a dynamic action learning programme over the next 18 months, working on a range of challenges, including: how to measure the impact of civic partnerships; how to develop equitable partnerships which realise mutual benefit; how to find meaningful ways to involve communities and citizens in decision making, and how to work with communities to address the climate agenda.

Other partnerships involved are: Anglia Ruskin University; City University London; Edge Hill University; Lancaster University; Universities for Nottingham (University of Nottingham & Nottingham Trent University); University of the Arts London; University of Bath; University of Kent; Universities Partnership: Working together for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (University of Leicester, De Montfort University & Loughborough University); University of York; Teesside University.

  • The National Civic Impact Accelerator (NCIA) is funded by Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

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