Course Description and Objectives

Welcome to Public Engagement and Higher Education! This course is designed to introduce students to the study and practice of public engagement in higher education.

During this nine-week session, students and instructors will consider the civic roles of postsecondary education institutions both past and present. Special attention will be paid to contemporary philosophies and practices of engagement, and how engagement is expressed in various institutional contexts. This course is designed for both practitioners and scholars who seek to deepen their understandings about the ways in which institutions might become more productively involved with communities they serve. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand and discuss higher education\’s role in society and how this role has evolved over time
  • Articulate various philosophies and theoretical frameworks that guide engagement research and practice, and how these conceptual pieces inform the development of engagement programs Identify and apply best practices of engaged teaching and learning, scholarship, and
  • service, and relate these practices to unique institutional missions and contexts.
  • Develop strategies for supporting engagement on their own campuses
  • Consider future directions for research on engagement

All course readings are available through e-reserves at the University of Minnesota Libraries via password access. A password and link to the course website will be distributed in an email.

Course Outline

1/21 Higher education and society: Historical and contemporary perspectives

  • Personal introductions
  • Introduction to the course (goals, learning contract, assignments)
  • Foundational concepts and historical perspectives of higher education
  • Changing and evolving purposes of higher education
  • Class Activity: What is the purpose of higher education? (Affinity exercise)

Required readings:

  • Dyer, T. G., (1999). Retrospect and prospect: Understanding the American outreach university. Journal of Public Service and Outreach. 4, (1), 52-64.
  • Hoevelver, J. D., (1997). The university and the social gospel: Intellectual origins of the Wisconsin
  • Idea, In, The history of higher education: second edition, ASHE reader series. Goodchild L.
  • F. & Wechsler, H. S. (eds). Needham Heights: Simon & Schuster.
  • Roper, C. D. & Hirth, M. A. (2005). A history of change in the third mission of higher education:
  • The evolution of one-way service to interactive engagement. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 10(3) 3-21.
  • Bringle Chapter 1, “Colleges and Universities as Citizens: Issues and Perspectives” (Robert G. Bringle, Richard Games, and Edward A. Malloy)

In class handouts for analysis:

  • Lucas: Morrill Act (1862), Truman Commission: Higher Education for American Democracy (1947),
  • Vannevar Bush Report, Science: the Endless Frontier (1945), Boyer: Scholarship Reconsidered (1990).

Recommended reading:

  • Kellogg Commission, (February, 1999). Returning to our roots: The engaged institution.,

1/28 What is engagement, and should we be doing it?

  • Presentation: Contemporary understandings of engagement (democracy, service
  • learning, engaged scholarship, technology transfer, etc.)
  • Large group discussion of readings
  • Class Activity: Engagement Challenges and Pitfalls (Role Play)

Required readings:

  • Checkoway, B. (2001). Renewing the civic mission of the American research university Journal of Higher Education, 72, 2 p. 126-147.
  • Fish, S. (2004). Why we built the ivory tower. Opinion section, New York Times.,
  • Sowell, T. (December 3, 2008). Freedom and the left. Pioneer Press. Saint Paul, MN.,
  • Wingspread Declaration (1999). Renewing the civic mission of American higher education. Racine,, WI. /initiatives/research_universities/Wingspread_Declaration.pdf
  • Bringle Chapter 2, “Ernest L. Boyer: Colleges and Universities as Citizens” (Charles E. Glassick)
  • Bringle Chapter 3, “Promoting Leadership, Service, and Democracy: What Higher Education Can Do” (Alexander W. Astin)

Recommended reading:

  • Cherwitz, R.A. and Hartelius, E.J. (2007). Making a ―great ̳engaged‘ university‖ requires rhetoric.
  • In Burke, J.C. (Ed.). Fixing the Fragmented University. Boston: Anker Publishing Company, 265-288.

2/4 Mission and context in developing a campus engagement agenda, Conducting an institutional audit for community engagement

Approaches to engagement by mission and context. How do institutions find a place in the system?
Class activity: Engagement audit. (Small group activity)

Required readings:

  • Bringle, Chapter 4, ―From Murky to Meaningful: The Role of Mission in Institutional Change (Barbara A. Holland)
  • Cameron, K. S., (1984). Organizational adaptation and higher education. Journal of Higher Education, 55, (2), 122-144.
  • Holland, B. A. (2005). Institutional differences in pursuing the public good. In A. J. Kezar, T. C.
  • Chambers, & J. C. Brukhardt (Eds.), Higher education for the public good: Emerging voices from a national movement (pp.235-259). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
  • Morphew, C.C. & Hartley, M. (2006). Mission statements: a thematic analysis of rhetoric across institutional type. Journal of Higher Education, 77(3), 456-471.

Audit tools:

  • Bringle Chapter 9, “Effective Assessment: A Signal of Quality Citizenship” (Barbara L. Cambridge)
  • Committee on Institutional Cooperation (2005). Resource Guide and Recommendations for Defining and Benchmarking Engagement. Champaign, IL: CIC Committee on Engagement.
  • Campus Compact (2008). Indicators of Engagement Project. /indicators/ (community colleges and minority serving institutions)
  • Clearinghouse for the Scholarship of Engagement,
  • Campus Compact (2003). The engaged department toolkit. (library reserve—Wilson library) CD supplement available via class Moodle site.
  • Holland, B.A. (1997). Analyzing institutional commitment to service: A model of key organizational factors. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 4, 30-41.

Handouts for in-class analysis:

  • Erlich, T., (2000). Chapters 11, 12, 13, and 16 in, Civic Responsibility and Higher Education. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press
  • Engagement audit training guide (2009). Course instructors

2/11 Engaged teaching and learning and engaged service

  • Connecting engagement with teaching and learning initiatives
  • Engagement as a service and outreach initiative.
  • Pedagogies of Engagement: Service learning, internships, field studies, study abroad
  • Students, faculty, community, institutional issues (challenges)

Class Activity: Engagement audit planning (Audit Teams)

Required readings:

  • Battistoni, R. (2002). Civic engagement across the curriculum, Providence, RI: Campus Compact. Brown University, 13-29.
  • Bringle Chapter 6, “Pedagogy and Engagement” (Edward Zlotkowski)
  • Butin, D. W, (2006). The limits of service learning in higher education. The Review of Higher Education 29(4), 473-498.
  • Enos, S. L., & Troppe, M. L., (1996). Service-learning in the curriculum. In, Jacoby, B. & Associates, Service-Learning in Higher Education, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Moely, B., Furco, A., and Reed, J. (2008). Charity and Social Change: The Impact of Individual Preferences on Service-Learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service-Learning, 15(1), 37-48.

Recommended reading:

  • Byron, W. (2000). A religious-based college and university perspective. In Ehrlich,T. (Eds.). Civic responsibility and higher education. American Council on Education. Phoenix, AZ: Onyx Press, 279-294.
  • Smith, J. (Oct. 22, 2007). Land-grant experts explain how Cornell’s historically state mission has now gone global. Chronicle Online.

2/18 Engaged research and scholarship

  • Engaged research and scholarship. Best practices, challenges, techniques to develop an engaged research agenda
  • National review board, support structures
  • Implications for faculty work and development

Class Activity: Guest speakers


  • Peters, S., & Lehman, K., (2005). Organizing for public scholarship in southeast Minnesota. In Peters, S. J., Jordan, N. R., Adamek, M. Alter, T. R., Engaging Campus and Community. Dayton, OH: Kettering Foundation
  • Stanton, T. K. (2007) New times demand new scholarship. Research universities and civic engagement: Opportunities and challenges. Los Angeles: UCLA. Online available from
  • Bringle Chapter 8, “Habits of Living: Engaging the Campus as Citizen One Scholar at a Time” (William M. Plater)
  • McDowell, G.R. (2002). What‘s the difference between extension and engagement? In, The extension system: A vision for the 21st century. Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP), National Association for State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.
  • Upper Midwest Campus Compact (2006). Civic Engagement in Graduate Education: Preparing the Next Generation of Engaged Scholars Wingspread Conference Report.
  • Peruse this website: Clearinghouse for the Scholarship of Engagement,

Recommended Reading:

  • Feldman, A.M. (2007). Engaged scholarship at the university. A Great Cities Institute Working
  • Paper. Chicago: University of Illinois at Chicago.

2/25 Institutionalizing engagement

Defining institutionalization

  • Dimensions of institutionalization
  • Building infrastructure to support the engaged campus

Class Activity: Institutionalization discussion, and audit planning


  • Furco, A., Miller, R., and Fross, S., (in press). Issues in assessing and benchmarking institutional engagement. In Sandmann. L. R. & Thorton, C. & Jaeger, A. (Eds.), Forthcoming issue of New Directions for Higher Education, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Bringle Chapter 5, “Strategies for Building the Infrastructure That Supports the Engaged Campus” (Mary L. Walshok)
  • Bringle Chapter 7, “Organizational Structures for Community Engagement” (Sharon Singleton, Deborah Hirsch, and Catherine Burack)
  • Weerts, D. J. (2007). Toward an engagement model of institutional advancement at public colleges and universities. International Journal of Educational Advancement 7(2), 79-103.

3/4 Leading the engaged campus

  • Leadership issues and engagement
  • Building organizational culture to support engagement

Class Activity: Leadership perspectives: Andy Furco
Leadership entry plan

  • Bloomfield V., (2005). Public scholarship: An administrator‘s view. In Peters, S. J., Jordan, N. R., Adamek, M. Alter, T. R., Engaging Campus and Community. Dayton, OH: Kettering
  • Foundation
  • Furco, A. and Holland, B. (2004). Institutionalizing service-learning in higher education: Issues and strategies for chief academic officers. In Langseth, M. and Plater, W.M. (Eds.). Public work
  • and the academy: An academic administrator’s guide to civic engagement and service-learning. San Francisco: Jossey Bass
  • Weerts, D. J. & Sandmann, L. R. (in press). Community engagement and boundary spanning roles at public research universities. Journal of Higher Education
  • Zimpher, N.L. (2006). Institutionalizing engagement: What can presidents do? In Percy, S.L,
  • Zimpher, N.L, Brukardt, M.J. (Eds.), Creating a new kind of university. Institutionalizing Community-University Engagement. 223- 241


  • Jentz, B & Murphy, J.,  Starting confused: How leaders start when they don‘t know where to start. Phi Delta Kappan (June 2005).

3/11 Public engagement, public policy, and the future of higher education

Engagement and public policy

  • Class Activity: Guest Speaker


  • Brukardt, M.J., Holland, B.A., and Zimpher, N.L. (2006). The path ahead: What‘s next for university engagement. In Percy, S.L, Zimpher, N.L, Brukardt, M.J. (Eds.), Creating a new kind of university. Institutionalizing Community-University Engagement. 242-260.
  • Davies, G. K. (2006). Setting a public agenda for higher education in the states. National Collaborative for Higher Education Policy.
  • Lane, J. (2008). Sustaining a public agenda for higher education: A case study of the North Dakota Higher Education Roundtable. Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education:
  • Boulder, CO
  • Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (2005). Five questions, one mission: Better lives for Kentucky’s people. a_20051004.pdf

3/18 Spring Break (No class)

3/25 No class this week—prepare for class presentations

4/1 Class presentations

Audit presentations—30 minutes per group followed by discussion
Course evaluations


Student participation and attendance (32 points, 4 points per 8 sessions)

Engagement audit (report: 30 points, presentation: 18 points)

The class will be divided into four groups with members assuming roles as reviewers for the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement. Each review team will conduct an audit of a Twin Cities area institution to provide analysis, critique, and recommendations about campus community engagement efforts. Campuses selected for audit will represent various institutional types (i.e. liberal arts college, research university, community college, regional/comprehensive university). As a team, the group will examine evidence about the institution‘s commitment to engagement by analyzing documents (web based, hard copy reports), interviewing leaders, and
(where possible) observation/site visits. If possible, students are encouraged to attend a meeting or other campus event that may inform their analysis (e.g., engagement council meeting, community engagement event, etc.)

Audit teams are required to select an engagement assessment tool to guide their analysis. A packet containing these tools will be provided, along with an audit training manual, on session three (February 4th). Throughout the course, students will have in-class opportunities to consult with classmates and instructors about the progress of their audit, and pose questions, insights, and recommendations pertaining to the project. Consultants rarely have a clear understanding of the scope of a project and often must discuss the project scope, time allowed for the project, and other
expectations. This process of clarification will occur throughout the course.

Report (30 points)

Audit teams will construct a report that is user friendly and likely to be read by clients (e.g, host institution, Carnegie review team). The report should be brief, informative, well organized, and provide concrete recommendations for the host institution. A specific format is not required, however, all reports should provide 1) an executive summary, and 2) an appendix indicating data sources used. All reports should reference course readings and literature where appropriate and provide a rationale for why they selected the particular assessment tool used in the audit. Visuals and supplemental reading materials may be included to add to the quality of the report. Reports will be evaluated by the depth and breadth of data collection (extent to which multiple sources are used to conduct the audit) quality of analysis, appropriate use of an assessment tool to conduct the audit, utility of recommendations for the host institution, and overall quality and organization of the report.
The report is due April 15th, two weeks after the final course meeting.

Presentation (18 points)

On the last day of class, April 1, audit teams will present their findings to their classmates and the instructors. Each team will have 30 minutes to present their consulting reports and another 20 minutes for audience feedback and discussion. Please let the instructors know if AV equipment will be required for the presentation so that such equipment can be arranged in advance. Evaluation of the presentation will be based on its organization, clarity of expression, use of resources and materials, engagement of classmates in dialogue and the quality of the material presented.
Choose 1 from 3 options (20 points):
We recognize that students may have specific goals for the course– using public engagement themes to develop a research agenda, incorporating engagement into practices for particular college, department or unit, etc. Thus, we offer the following 3 options for an individual project:

Literature review

Students selecting this assignment will conduct a comprehensive review of literature on a particular area related to public engagement and higher education. For example, students may choose to review works on the impact of service learning on students and faculty, or how institutions develop reciprocal relationships with communities they serve (best practices, theories, etc). As part of their review, students will offer perspectives on important questions that remain unanswered in the literature. Students selecting this assignment should first consult with instructors on the topic. Literature reviews will be evaluated on the significance of the subject area, depth and breadth of the review, and critique of future directions for research in the field. This assignment is strongly recommended for students who are in the idea forming stage of their thesis or doctoral dissertation. That is, this review of literature may be used to inform future research paper/dissertation proposals that align with themes of public engagement.

Research proposal/prospectus

Students selecting the assignment will develop a research proposal/prospectus related to public engagement and higher education. Proposals should discuss a particular problem/gap in the literature and provide a rationale for study in that area. Subsequently, research questions should be framed to address this problem, and literature should be introduced to inform the inquiry (above assignment on literature review requires more comprehensive analysis). Furthermore, the student will propose a conceptual framework that helps to guide the study. Finally, methods and sources of data will be proposed to address the research questions. Students selecting this assignment should first consult with instructors to approve the project idea and solicit feedback to strengthen proposal. Research proposals will be evaluated on the significance of subject area, alignment of research questions, literature, and
conceptual framework, and proposal of data and methods to answer the questions. This
assignment is strongly recommended for students who have concrete ideas about an area to study in the domain of public engagement and higher education.

Professional engagement plan

This assignment is for the practitioner seeking to incorporate concepts of public engagement in a particular unit where they work (e.g., college, department, etc.) or within their own professional practice (e.g., student affairs administrator, alumni relations officer, research administrator, etc.). Specifically, students will use course materials, readings, and exercises to develop their own plan for advancing engagement within their sphere of influence. For example, a student affairs administrator may consider how the principles of engagement apply to residence hall programming, providing proposals for community engagement in this context. Guiding questions may include, ―What might engagement look like as aligned with student development programming? What are the roles of the housing director, hall directors, and residence life staff in facilitating engagement? What are the challenges and opportunities of incorporating engagement in this context? What concrete strategies could leaders incorporate to facilitate this action?‖ Professional engagement plans will be
evaluated based on the comprehensiveness of the plan, attention to course literature,
discussions, and exercises in developing the plan, and overall organization and cohesiveness of the plan.

Own proposed project

Students may elect to develop an alternative project in consultation with the instructors.
Note: This project must be an individual project and not a group project.

Optional Assignment: Students can earn up to five (5) additional points by completing an optional
5-10 page (double-spaced) critical analysis of two or more supplemental readings as they pertain to issues discussed in class and reviewed in the main course readings. A critical analysis involves identifying the strengths and weaknesses of authors‘ arguments, comparing the selected literature for similar and differences in perspective, and offering personal insights into how the authors‘ arguments/ideas might be reframed. Points are awarded based on the appropriateness of the argument or discussion, the depth of the analysis, and the quality of the written presentation. To
receive credit for the critical analysis, it must be submitted by [DATE].