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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Placing engagement: Critical readings of interaction between regional communities and comprehensive universities
by Moore, Tami Lea, Ph.D., Washington State University, 2008, 282; 3424724
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation explores organizational narratives of engagement initiatives involving two comprehensive universities and the larger regional communities they serve. The purpose of this study is to develop a holistic description of engagement initiatives, reflecting data collected through interviews, documents and other artifacts from representatives of community and university, including residents, civic leaders, university faculty and administrators, elected officials, community and non-profit organizations and businesses.

Using case studies of the University of Central Oklahoma and Lewis-Clark State College, this research explores the interaction of each institution with the regional community it serves. Utilizing narrative analysis techniques and portraiture methodology to explore the complexities of these relationships, I identified four layers in the data. Portraits of the two regional institutions explore each layer individually. Layer 1 is an overview of the community, the university, and the engagement initiatives, followed by the narrative of engagement which frames the initiatives in Layer 2. The third layer places engagement as product and reflection of cultural, historical and social events in a particular place. Layer 4 juxtaposes these narratives with the theoretical framework.

In uncovering these layers, the dissertation breaks new ground in the scholarship related to community-university engagement, demonstrating the importance of place in producing the terms of this interaction. The findings can be read in two ways: for what they tell us about economic development as engagement in comprehensive colleges and universities; and as an example of a methodological approach which emphasizes the simultaneous existence of multiple layers in narrative data. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of community-university interaction shaped by place and by power as evidenced in the two portrait/case studies, and offers recommendations to advance community involvement in engagement initiatives, as well as the practice, scholarship related to, and theorizing of community-university engagement. The final chapter of the dissertation serves two purposes: first, it contributes to an understanding of community-university interaction as shaped by place and by power; and then, offers new perspectives on engagement based on a spatialized, or place-based, reading of Bourdieu’s treatment of power functioning in social fields that can advance theory, practice and scholarship in this area.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ward, Kelly A., Shinew, Dawn M.
School: Washington State University
School Location: United States -- Washington
Source: DAI-A 71/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher education
Keywords: Community-university partnerships, Comprehensive universities, Engagement, Narrative inquiry, Place, Regional communities
Publication Number: 3424724
ISBN: 978-1-124-24590-4
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