Carnegie Designation explained

Carnegie Designation explained

Community engagement is key

In January 2015, UWM was officially selected as a “Community Engagement Classified Campus” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

This is a big deal. But what does it mean?

The Carnegie Foundation’s Classification for Community Engagement is “based on voluntary participation by institutions … and requires substantial effort invested by participating institutions. It is an evidence-based documentation of institutional practice … to determine whether the institution qualifies for recognition as a community-engaged institution.”

Put plainly, colleges and universities apply to be recognized for the Carnegie Classification because of the prestige it carries. As a classified campus, UWM joins an impressive list of colleges and universities that serves as national leaders in community engagement.

How Dow We Define Community Engagement?

In general, the definition is clear and easy. Community Engagement most often refers to collaborations between colleges/universities and local communities. However, recent trends and practices have broadened that definition to include engagement with local, regional/state, national and global communities.

An important value in engagement at each of the community levels, and one that is central to the Carnegie Classification, is that collaborations must inspire the “mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.” When students, faculty and staff collaborate with non-profit organizations, neighborhood associations, K-12 schools, private corporations and community members, the collaborations should involve mutually determined goals and outcomes, shared planning and implementation, and an overall process whereby all parties involved and the various expertise they each bring are mutually valued.

One of our many vibrant collaborations that embraces this core value is Project Picturing Milwaukeeconducted by Associate Professor of Architecture, Arijit H. Sen. Project Picturing Milwaukee provides an immersive learning experience that explores the history and heritage of Milwaukee neighborhoods. Among the project’s objectives includes “empowering local communities by hearing/responding to those voices that are often not heard in urban and official discourses,” and “collecting local histories of place and cultural relevance.”Visit Project Picturing Milwaukee and learn more about this ideal example of the type of community engagement expected of a Carnegie Classified Campus.

What are the purposes of Community Engagement?

On this question, the Carnegie Foundation is clear: “The purpose of community engagement is … to enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.”

These purposes of the Carnegie Classification embrace the very definition of a liberal education that informs the University of Wisconsin System Shared Learning Goals. These shared learning goals guide undergraduate education at each of our campuses across the state. UW campuses are charged with shaping in our students, Critical and Creative Thinking Skills, Effective Communication Skills, Intercultural knowledge and competence, and Individual, Social and Environmental Responsibility, which includes civic knowledge and engagement (both local and global), ethical reasoning, and action.

When we embarked on “Our Carnegie Classification” application, we did so as a campus that had embedded the values and practices inherent in the classification in our teaching, research and engagement efforts decades earlier.

What Do We Do With “Our Carnegie Classification?”

First and foremost, we must recognize the scores of collaborations that make up the UWM Family. “Our Carnegie Classification” demands we mutually share the recognition. More than ever, our collaborations have the capacity to define and address important issues affecting our region and state.

Second, we must herald our community engagement efforts and we must herald “Our Carnegie Classification.” The many rich and impactful collaborations highlight our collective impact across the region, state, nation and globe. In the coming months, these collaborations will be highlighted in continuing and fresh new ways.

Third, and not in the least, we must do more to maintain our status as a classified campus. In fact, the Carnegie Foundation is clear again: “Maintaining authentically collaborative, mutually beneficial partnerships takes ongoing commitment, and we urge institutions to continue their attention to this critical aspect of community engagement.” In order to maintain “Our Carnegie Classification” we must reapply in five years, and show concrete evidence that our community engagement efforts are better integrated, more pervasive and sustainable. In 2020, the depth, quality and sustainability of our collective efforts will experience rigorous review.

Stay tuned for more information on “Our Carnegie Classification.”