Our society is in a period of dramatic change with the transition from an industrial-based to a knowledge-based economy, as well as technological advances, fiscal challenges of higher education, and cultural shifts in society as a whole. Increasing collaborations between communities and universities in order to influence the public good becomes paramount during this time of dramatic change. As frustratingly slow as the movement to strengthen the relationship between higher education and society sometimes seems to be, few social institutions are better situated than colleges and universities to stimulate significant community improvement. Individually and collectively, institutions of higher education possess considerable resources—human, fiscal, organizational, and intellectual— which are critical to addressing significant social issues. Additionally, these institutions are physically rooted in their communities. Therefore, investing in the betterment of their immediate environments is good for both the community and the institution. However, it is recognized that higher education institutions often fall short of making a real impact in their home communities. Therefore, a conference was convened to examine the current and evolving role of higher education institutions, particularly those operating within the context of coalitions, consortia and state systems, to catalyze change on issues affecting communities and society as a whole. Specifically, the focus of the conference was to develop and strengthen an understanding of how higher education might work more effectively with communities and we believe that consortia or collaboratives of higher education institutions, along with community partners, can learn from one another. Cooperation between efforts is important. The papers offered in this monograph are the result of the Wingspread Conference on Higher Education Collaboratives for Community Engagement and Improvement, conducted on October 27-29, 2004, in Racine, Wisconsin. The conference, the second of a three-part series, was sponsored by the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good at the University of Michigan School of Education, the Johnson Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The first conference in the series held in October 2003 and titled Public Understanding, Public Support and Public Policy focused on higher education’s role in society and the concluding conference will be held in the fall of 2005.



Publication Date



National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


©2005 by the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good

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