The morning after: Stakeholder reflections on the sustainability of a community-campus engagement center in the changing environment
Most analyses of the success and sustainability of community-university engagement initiatives focus on the university environment. We explore the impact of changes in the larger social and political systems on the community as well as those within the university on the meaning and use of a shared community space. The York University-TD Community Engagement Centre (CEC) is a storefront facility for research and teaching shared by York University and the Jane-Finch/Black Creek community, a richly diverse, suburban, underserved neighbourhood in Toronto, Canada. The physical space facilitates and sustains the community-university partnership in this region. As representatives of the community and/or university with strong ties to the engagement centre, we review changes in both the institution and the larger political context in which the university and community navigate their relationship. We also reflect on how these changes play a role in determining community and university priorities, the value of their relationship, and the availability of resources. Community-university initiatives emerge in environments that provide opportunities for shared activities and the development of a shared vision. However, the sustainability of a community-university initiative is strongly influenced by broad environmental changes, requiring self-reflection, trust, communication and innovation.
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