Building community university partnership resilience

  • Hart, Angie (PI)

Project Details


This AHRC-funded project advanced authentic, strategic community university partnerships.

It kickstarted a cultural shift that acknowledges community engagement in research as essential to understanding and promoting community university collaborations. One of the drivers for community partners and academics engaged in community university partnership working is the potential these ventures have for improving social conditions and tackling inequalities. Collaboration between communities and universities in the UK as a device for social change is gaining impetus, as more and more partnerships produce findings that demonstrate positive impact.

Up to this point, the majority of what we knew about what helps and hinders community university partnership working had been presented from an academic viewpoint. The chance to learn from community partner experience and feed this into improving future working and related HE policy is overlooked. We wanted to set the foundation for a UK-wide community partner network that once formed, would influence HE policy and practice.

Community partners co-wrote the bid which secured the finances for this project from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Community partners led on delivering its objectives in relation to community mobilisation and inclusion. An academic engagement group worked in parallel with community partners.

The project aimed to bring together a group of 20 experienced community partners to share their successes, reflect on the challenges and identify promising practices that support partnership working to tackle social inequalities. To do this, the objective was to create a core planning group of community partners and others, to organise the first UK-wide community partner summit in June 2012, drawing on the expertise of our North American partners. By creating a safe space at which partners could explore their experiences of working with universities openly and freely, we hoped to build community partner capacity to influence both the university that they work with and share the learning from this at a national level to inform HEFCE policy and funding.

Key findings

The summit inspired and enthused attendees to advance the recommendations and actions from the summit at local, regional and national levels.

The experience helped sustain and build the resilience of community partners so that they felt fit to shape conversations and influence policy regarding issues of power, equity, shared decision making, funding and sustainability.

Working groups were established to provide the mechanism for community partners to contribute to summit follow-up activities. A significant feature of this involved community partners and CCP academics meeting together to continue dialogue and action immediately after the initial summit to produce high-quality outputs.

We created a hub for a self-sustaining community partner forum to collectively share and learn from the summit when project funding ceased.

The capacity built through this project is available to future CCPs and feeds into strategic developments for individual universities, HEFCE and the Research Councils with participants now regularly requested to be part of grant decision- making panels.

Post-project resources are available for academics and community partners to use, hosted through a dedicated presence on the NCCPE website.


Aumann, K., Duncan, S., Hart, A. (2014) ‘What Have We Learnt? A Year on from the first UK Community Partner Summit.’ Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement, 7 (1) 129-143.

Effective start/end date1/10/1330/09/14


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