Working in a higher education institution? Planning to launch an engaged learning initiative? Here is some advice from the teams behind the CaST project.

1 Plan and be prepared

  • Design your initative carefully, ensuring there are benefits for all partners
  • Plan all course material in close collaboration with your partners
  • Learn from other initatives and other peoples’ experiences (and mistakes!)
  • Prepare a contingency plan and an alternative delivery format (online/hybrid) just in case
  • Review and revise your plan as you learn what does and doesn’t work
  • Develop an evaluation plan and consider what data you need to meet the needs of all partners

2 Engage and build trust

  • Remember that it takes time to build trust between partners
  • Be respectful of partners’ time, requirements and needs
  • Value all forms of knowledge, experience and contribution
  • Co-develop the aims of the partnership with the expectations of all partners being clearly expressed from the outset
  • Treat all community and university partners as equals
  • Recognise the different power dynamics between different organisations and individuals and address these in an equitable way

3 Communicate

  • Be clear and transparent at all stages of the project
  • Be practical and not too philosophical
  • Avoid communicating only via email
  • Share all lessons and challenges so that you can continue to improve and achieve greater impact

4 Reward

  • Ensure there are benefits for all partners
  • If possible, provide incentives for all partners to engage
  • Celebrate successes
  • Keep it fun and meaningful

5 Working with students

  • Give the students clear information about the course and any benefits it might give them
  • Plan interactive lessons with active discussion and participation instead of traditional lectures and exams
  • Encourage students to actively collaborate with each other and community members
  • Encourage students to take responsibility so they feel like it’s their project
  • Learn with and from your students
  • Allow for mistakes, and learn from them

6 Co-create

  • Co-create the final output with the community partner in a format that is useful and meaningful to them
  • Publish your research outside academia in language that the community understands