In September 2016, Associate Vice President for Public Engagement, Andrew Furco, formed the Public Engagement Action Plan Work Group, a 38-member task force charged with recalibrating the Twin Cities campus’s public engagement agenda and developing a set of action steps for furthering the institutionalization of reciprocal, public engagement over the next five years (see Appendix A).

Composed of faculty, engagement unit leaders, staff, and students from a broad range of disciplines and units (see Appendix B), the Work Group held monthly meetings in which they:  identified key priorities for advancing public engagement; articulated a vision for each priority; and developed a set of action steps to guide the campus’s work in fully meeting the identified engagement priorities.

In identifying campus priorities for public engagement, the Work Group considered the University’s established definition of public engagement (approved in 2005):

“Public engagement is the partnership of university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.”

Using the University’s established, system-wide action plan for public engagement (Ten-Point Plan for Advancing and Institutionalizing Public Engagement, 2008) as a foundational document, the Work Group first reviewed information, goals, and recommendations contained in key institutional strategic planning and policy documents, and then worked to incorporate this information into an initial draft of a recalibrated public engagement action plan for the Twin Cities campus.  The information, goals, and recommendations reviewed for the initial draft included the following:

  • public engagement-related goals contained in the overarching Twin Cities ten-year strategic plan:  Driving Tomorrow;
  • Campus Compact declaration principles for civic engagement (signed by President Kaler);
  • recommendations for advancing policy, infrastructure, and culture, submitted by participants of the system-wide conference, Meeting Grand Challenges through Community-Engaged Research and Teaching;
  • recommendations for improving public engagement, contained in the Twin Cities Carnegie Community Engagement Classification review report;
  • faculty recommendations on improving faculty rewards for engaged scholarship; and
  • various recommendations submitted by academic units, centers, and individuals

Drawing on this information, the members identified ten overarching priority themes and self-selected themselves into five working groups (subgroups).  Each subgroup worked on establishing a vision statement and a set of action steps for two themes.  The subgroups shared their respective vision statement and action steps with the full Work Group to ensure alignment of goals and focus across all ten priority theme areas.  

The Work Group completed a full draft of the Public Engagement Action Plan on March 1, 2017.  Throughout the month of March, a series of public feedback sessions were held on the Twin Cities and in the community for the members of the Work Group to garner internal and external feedback on the initial draft. Individuals and groups were also invited to submit input and suggestions for revision via an online feedback system.

The Work Group considered this important feedback, and on April 19, 2017, the group produced a revised Public Engagement Action Plan, which was presented to Executive Vice President and Provost Karen Hanson for feedback and commentary.

Based on the feedback provided by Provost Hanson, as well as additional feedback submitted from internal and external stakeholders, the Work Group refined the draft and submitted this final version of the action plan to Associate Vice President Furco on May 10, 2017.