Report helps guide public engagement at research universities


A report recently published by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities outlines how research universities can better support engaged and equity-oriented scholars and scholarship on their campuses.

The report was led by Elyse Aurbach, director of the Public Engagement and Research Impacts unit within the Office of the Vice President for Research.

“The University of Michigan’s research enterprise aims to solve the world’s most challenging problems through innovative solutions, and engaging with the public is key to better understanding and addressing the issues our local and global communities face,” said Aurbach, who served as an APLU Civic Science Fellow while authoring the report.

“The action framework outlined in this report is a playbook that universities can use to prioritize solutions and outcomes for research impact across disciplines.”

The report, “Modernizing Scholarship for the Public Good: An Action Framework for Public Research Universities,” outlines eight evidence-based approaches that universities can incorporate into their future strategies to promote publicly impactful scholarship and advance equitable environments.

These takeaways include developing opportunities for committed institutional leaders, programming for emerging researchers, and funding and awards to recognize public engagement work.

To illustrate how a successful institutional transformation initiative unfolded, the report contains a case study on U-M’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategic planning and implementation process.

The case study outlines how the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion guided units from across the university to collect information and create individualized five-year plans, tailored to their needs. This was essential when creating a plan that aligned with the university’s goals, while also meeting the varying needs of units across campus.

Using this case study, and others from peer institutions, as an example, the report highlights how investment in infrastructure, leadership development and reward mechanisms to foster public engagement and equity initiatives can advance the missions of public research universities.

The report was co-sponsored by U-M, the Rita Allen Foundation, the Kavli Foundation and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

“Today’s challenges are increasingly complex and require institutions to engage more deeply with their communities than ever before. The ‘Modernizing Scholarship’ action framework provides institutions a critical roadmap for bolstering their publicly engaged research and impact,” APLU President Mark Becker said.


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