Dilemmas and tensions as drivers of change in engaged research and learning communities.

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This article reflects on the tensions and dilemmas inherent to engaged teaching and research practices. We build on a multiple-case study to explore their potential as catalysts for change at individual, group and institutional levels. The cases were documented as part of a strategic project that ran for 4 years (2018-2021) at Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The project aimed at better aligning the university’s offerings with both needs and opportunities of its urban surroundings. We adopted a mixed-method approach to scrutinize the experiences of the participants in the activities under study (lecturers, students and partners). Our dataset draws on direct observations, document analysis, surveys and reflective dialogues. The paper is organized in four parts. In the first section we will conceptualize engaged teaching and research practices as ‘boundary work’ building on Engeström’s Activity Theory. Second, will we define four types of dilemmas investigated in this study: conceptual, cultural, political and pedagogical. Third, we will illustrate occurrences of change resulting from activity-system contradictions, drawing on a tool we developed earlier: the engagement CUBE. We close the paper with a series of reflective questions that might support academics in further developing their practices of engagement.
Originele taal-2English
TitelCommunity-Engaged Universities Conference Proceedings
Aantal pagina's13
StatusAccepted/In press - 20 mei 2022


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