The Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) fosters community university partnerships that aim to promote the principles and practices of civic engagement and democracy.

CKI Co-Leads Europe Engage

Europe Engage is a project which brings together twelve European universities to further develop service learning and civic engagement within higher education. This three year project led by the Autonomous University of Madrid with NUI Galway (CKI) began in September 2014, receieved €345,000 from EU Erasmus + KA2.

The overarching objective of Europe Engage is to embed the concept of the civic university through the growth and development of service learning initiatives within the participating universities. Through these actions, healthy levels of social capital can be maintained and democracy can continue to develop within a European context.

Since 2014, the Europe Engage partners have worked to gather knowledge on existing service learning practices and the evidence demonstrated within their universities, regarding their commitment to this educational approach. Ultimately, Europe Engage aims to develop a central resource and create a network of support to share knowledge, evidence and practice to promote service learning as a pedagogical approach and develop a culture of service learning within higher education in Europe.

To date, this project has worked to publish a report outlining the results from a survey conducted among the twelve partner universities. This report entitled, ‘EUROPE ENGAGE – Developing a Culture of Civic Engagement through Service-Learning within Higher Education Europe’ documents the nature of the work of these universities in service learning and civic engagement. Information regarding the internal policies, strategies, resources and practices was also gathered to gain an understanding of the perspective each institution. The Europe Engage partners are happy that this report provides a ‘snapshot’ from which the project can establish a baseline and work towards future targets, plans and growth of activities. The project team have also developed a MOOC, which is a free online course, which provides participants with an introduction to service-learning pedagogy and methods of integrating a meaningful community service into the curriculum, as well as the evaluation. A book is also currently in development, which will add to the resources available, supporting educators across Europe in using service learning as a pedagogical teaching approach.

The project partners have been invited to share their research and knowledge with colleagues internationally including the International Association of Research on Service Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE) 2016 Conference hosted by the Univeristy of Tulane in New Orleans with Hector Opazo, Europe Engage Project Manager and Lorraine McIlrath, Europe Engage Co-Direoct joing an iternational panel to address cultural dimensions of the pedagogical apprach.

NUI Galway hosted students from the 12 partner universities in June 2017 and they engaged in service learning projects, representing a significant opportunity for the 12 universities to establish further connections, share experiences and develop knowledge in how to promote service learning within higher education across Europe. The partner universities in Europe Engage include; Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain; National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland; Erasmus University of Rotterdam, Netherlands; Ghent University, Belgium; ISPA – Instituto Universitário de Ciências Psicológicas, Sociais e da Vida, Portugal; IMC University of Applied Science-Krems GmbH, Austria; University of Bologna, Italy; University of Brighton, United Kingdom; University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany; University of Helsinki, Finland; University of Zagreb, Croatia and Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania.