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I think that so many people and groups would like to know that the university is adding some value or is open to the idea of finding solutions in addressing their personal, community or global challenges especially for those that live in the local and surrounding boroughs. This could be done by addressing local needs or the needs of migrant populations living in the area. For example, we need to publicise our local, regional and international work by targeting the local segments and interest groups and encourage stakeholders to engage in many ways. This will bring mutual benefits to all parties.
Another way to facilitate this could be to give staff one day to work in the community on a civic project and to report back on their initiative. Examples could be but not limited to a staff giving a presentation to a local community group about their research/expertise, doing a community needs assessment aimed at developing a project or social enterprise/charity, helping with funding, running a workshop in the community or for the community in the university, etc.
The university should invest in a “Staff Civic Day” and encourage staff to work in the community for one day in a year. Staff would first need to identify a need and come up with a proposal approved by their manager. The potential social impact would be high and could lead to other scalable initiatives. We would then be a truly Civic University contributing several hundred days in the community.