Politics, the Community and the Common Good
Community engagement and community empowerment issues have become matters of critical debate in recent times. Universities develop and initiate community engagement policies and programs; government agencies attempt to involve communities in decision-making and corporations engage in similar processes.
In 2009/2010 UOW initiated a lecture series that looked at how and why community engagement has become an important social issue. It also examined those processes which could lead to community empowerment. Case studies were used to interrogate these issues as well as prominent public figures who provide a diverse range of analyses of engagement and empowerment.
The concept of community engagement is taken one step further. Instead of seeing community engagement as something we do outside the University, this subject brings the community into the University.
Among the impressive line up of speakers were:
- Former High Court Justice Michael Kirby who is a respected international jurist and advocate for human rights
- Businessman, philanthropist and adventurer, Dick Smith, who is founder of Dick Smith Electronics, Dick Smith Foods, Australian Geographic and is credited as the first man to fly solo around the world via helicopter. He was Australian of the year (1986)
- Former Chairperson of the NSW Corrective Services Commission and famed promoter of equity, Professor Tony Vinson
- Winner of a 2009 national award for excellence in teaching and recipient of the 2010 Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Community Engagement, from UOW's School of History and Politics, Dr Glenn Mitchell