Purpose: Community engaged research and learning strategies are considered meaningful methods for universities to demonstrate their critical importance to today’s societies. At the same time, it is stressed that not all approaches are equally beneficial, highlighting the need for well-considered design and delivery. This paper aims to outline a helpful tool in this regard: the engagement CUBE. Design/methodology/approach: The engagement CUBE was developed by a learning community set-up at a Belgian university to explore the potential of engaged practices for meeting both needs and assets of its urban surroundings. A series of learning circles was organized for discussing recent research findings, experiences and ambitions with engaged campus-community initiatives and support targeted (re)design. Findings: The CUBE is a helpful instrument for navigating the complex fabric of engaged practices. It is to be used as a dialogic tool, facilitating collaborative meaning negotiation and decision-making among participants in engagement strategies. Its purpose is both to help design a supportive environment for establishing partnerships that build on shared ownership and mutual learning, as to stimulate capacity-building for taking responsible change-oriented action. Originality/value: This paper contributes to the existing literature on engaged teaching and research by emphasizing the need of acknowledging conflict as an important condition for fostering insightful learning and genuine transformation. The authors will argue that adopting a conflict perspective also allows for a more critical examination of the emerging concept of university social responsibility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-798
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2022


  • Boundary crossing
  • University social responsibility
  • Campus-community engagement
  • Community engaged research and learning (CERL)
  • Transformative praxis


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