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Regional colleges and universities are unique in their historic commitment to serve the economic, social, and cultural interests of particular communities. Drawing on the findings of a multi-site case study of two regional institutions, this paper outlines the goals of community-university interaction, then focuses more specifically on the processes of collaboration as distinct from the participants’ desired outcomes. Separating goals from process in this way allows us to explore the civic/democratic impact of these initiatives beyond their economic impact. Findings suggest that when community-university engagement initiatives focus too narrowly on economic development goals, project leaders sometimes neglect the potential of engagement initiatives as catalysts for participatory democracy, thereby limiting input from traditionally under-represented groups. Scholars and practitioners can draw from community development literature, as well as the scholarship related to community-university engagement, allowing simultaneous attention to the nature of relationships between universities and the communities they serve and the process of building inclusive relationships.


File nameDate UploadedVisibilityFile size
19 Jul 2022
335 kB



  • Journal title
    • Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship

  • Volume
    • 6

  • Issue
    • 1

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022