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Engaged KU

Engaged KU is an initiative to advance community engagement at KU by enhancing collaborative efforts within and across units through integrated training and support in the facilitation of a project that will enhance community-engaged learning, scholarship, and/or civic engagement.

Through Engaged KU a collaborative team of faculty, staff, students, and/or community partners participate in collaborative learning and planning, in which they receive ongoing support from the Center for Service Learning for implementation of a community engagement plan and/or project.

Engaged KU Program Details:

Academic and research units, including departments, centers, and institutes, are integral to developing a culture that support and institutionalizes community engagement at KU.

Colleagues from within the same unit will explore how to further promote community engagement within their unit. Participants will develop a plan and collaborative project or approach to support program, policies, and/or practices that advances and fosters a culture and commitment to community engagement as a unit. The plan should support goals that align with the KU Civic Action Plan.

Many communities experience complex and challenging socio-economic problems, which requires a collaborative and multi-disciplinary approach to community problem-solving.

The Engage KU: Big Ideas Incubator promotes community-university collaboration to positively impact communities through multidisciplinary teams of faculty, staff, and/or students from the University of Kansas working to address a common problem or issue in the community.

The Big Ideas Incubator harnesses the full scholarly potential of KU faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates to research, innovate, and collaborate with one another and with community partners to address some of the biggest problems of today.

The Incubator fosters intentional, sustained, and holistic research collaborations among faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates from across the University’s many schools and campuses while producing meaningful deliverables to community partners and strengthening bonds with the larger public. The impacts are simple: we embody the purpose of a public research university as we are improving the world around us by creatively channeling our collective scholarly passions. Each “big idea” taken up by the Incubator will receive a three-year incrementally intensive scholarly network of faculty first, then faculty and graduate students, and finally, faculty, graduate students and undergraduates. Each year also provides an increasingly impactful and expansive application/deliverable to community partners.

The Big Ideas Incubator has three main objectives: first to foster stronger, lasting, and more holistic relationships with community partners; second, to provide structure and encouragement for cross-campus faculty research collaborations; and third, to include both graduate and undergraduate students in integrated learning and research opportunities that model interdisciplinary research and community engagement.  The goals of these objectives are to increase our efforts to learn from and help build healthy communities in which we live, both locally and globally; increase collaborative research, especially between the humanities and STEM, engineering, and medical research; and continue to strengthen the academic training for our students to prepare them as scholar-practitioners as they move into a rapidly evolving society in which community health is becoming increasingly complex. Research activities of the Incubator will vary as the needs of the projects and the teams are identified. A multidisciplinary team of at least three to five participants will assemble and support participation in the collaborative initiative.

  • Develop and support communities of practice to advance community engagement at KU
  • Facilitate and promote collaborative community engagement efforts
  • Enhance commitment and support for community engagement within and across departments, centers, institutes, and other units at KU
  • Develop a plan and project that advances and supports a culture of community engagement within the unit (e.g., department, center) and with collaborative partners
  • Provide opportunities that advances community engagement of students through coursework, research, and/or experiential learning activities support by the Engaged KU Collaborative Teams
  • Seed funding ($3,500) is provided to the collaborative team or unit to implement a community engagement plan and project. Although community engagement activities may support a variety of formats, it is important to ensure clear and demonstrable impact on student learning and experiences
  • Integrated into the initiative are opportunities for co-learning through technical support and/or training about community engagement for the collaborative team or unit through the implementation of a plan and/or project
  • CSL staff will provide at least quarterly consultation through training and/or technical support to further the implementation of the plan and project
  • Support translation of knowledge, skills, & resources generated through community-engaged learning, research & service
  • Contribute to addressing problems in communities through collaboration and co-learning across faculty, staff, & students with community partners
  • Increase exposure, access, & opportunities to understand the cumulative impact of KU’s community engagement efforts.
  • Provide opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to contribute to addressing issues of importance
  • Assemble collaborative teams of 3 to 5 representatives to participate as a collaborative team or unit
  • Support a coordinated training and technical support plan with the CSL, which may be in the form of workshops, seminars, and/or structured activities related to community engagement
  • Develop a plan to support a collaborative project and plan to advance community engagement over the next academic year
  • Support quarterly documentation of efforts supported through the Engaged KU Initiative using the Community Check Box Evaluation System

If you and/or your department is interested in learning more about the Engaged KU initiative, email us at!

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