22 November 2023Share
Australian Catholic University (ACU) has become one of the first Australian higher education institutions to receive the new Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.
ACU and University of Technology Sydney (UTS) were announced as the inaugural recipients of the new Classification for Australian universities at the Engagement Australia conference in Sydney today.
The historic announcement makes ACU one of the first universities outside the United States to receive this significant classification, which was formally implemented in Australia in June this year.
The Classification recognises ACU as a higher education leader in institutionalised community engagement, and committed to working with community to transform society.
Established by US-based Carnegie Foundation, the Carnegie Classifications have been used to recognise and advance the community-engaged practices of higher education institutions. The Community Engagement accreditation is an elective classification describing the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.
Community Engagement at ACU encompasses activities and initiatives that build capacity and affirm human dignity through sustainable and reciprocal collaborations with communities, especially those which have historically experienced disadvantage or marginalisation.
ACU undergraduate students participate in Community Engagement opportunities as part of the Core Curriculum. ACU staff can also apply to work with community organisations on research projects that address real-world challenges and opportunities. They can additionally apply to receive up to 35 hours of time release throughout the years to participate in approved community engagement activities.
Other community engagement initiatives at ACU include the Clemente program, the award-winning Solomon Islands Initial Teacher Immersion Program; an extensive, sustained partnership in Timor Leste; and the Order of Malta and ACU Community Hub in Melbourne.
ACU Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Zlatko Skrbis said ACU's successful Carnegie Classification was a momentous achievement for the university.
"ACU is delighted to be one of the first Australian universities in the history of the Carnegie Foundation to receive the Community Engagement Classification," Professor Skrbis said.
"As a national university -with an overseas campus in Rome- ACU serves and works closely in at least ten local communities connected to our campuses and leadership centres. The Carnegie Classification reaffirms our commitment to working with these communities and partner organisations to improve the lives of members living in our communities and to take on research that serves the common good."
Dr Matthew Pink, Head of ACU Engagement, said the Carnegie Classification reflected ACU's reputation as a highly valued and respected contributor to community.
"Community Engagement at ACU aims to truly understand the people we work with to make a meaningful and mutually beneficial impact. It starts with relationships," Dr Pink said.
"We are a catalyst of positive change in our communities and societies-our integral approach to human development allows us to develop considered solutions with community to the major challenges of our time.
"We know from our own research that community placements involving direct interactions with community members contributes positively to student empathy and this enables a more considered and active professional and personal citizenship.
"The Carnegie Classification demonstrates ACU's capacity to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes with community and sets a foundation for further growth and impact as an institution."
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