The benefits of the Engaged Learning approach are well documented and similar across the different initiatives in each of the partner countries. Reciprocity is a fundamental feature of all the initiatives. Students gain an enriched education which provides them with new competencies and prepares them for their future career, while increasing their sense of civic responsibility. Many initiatives also enable students to produce an impactful dissertation or thesis that provides useful knowledge or evidence to the community or partner with whom they engage. The contribution to society can range hugely from the inception of a helpful idea to an on-going collaborative project that yields multiple benefits to wider society. However, no matter the scale of the initiative, the act of engagement, collaboration, and / or participatory action can help break down the traditional teacher-student hierarchies and encourage student-led learning and innovation that can benefit all partners.
In order for research and innovation to benefit our society and economy, we need to break down the barriers between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and wider society. We need to engage with a broader range of people and organisations in the design and delivery of our research to build effective and genuine partnerships with our stakeholders and make our research more relevant and impactful to society. Our students are the researchers and innovators of tomorrow. Empowering them with skills they need to apply their learning (regardless of their discipline) to real world societal challenges, will help foster the talent required to tackle the grand challenges of the future.
To support and facilitate Engaged Learning (EL) in our institutions, we make the following recommendations to local, national and EU Policy Makers.