In The InterAction Report, published today by the Carnegie UK Trust, Professor Mark Shucksmith, Director of the Newcastle University Institute for Social Renewal, challenges traditional views of universities as sole producers of knowledge and identifies how higher education institutions and the third sector can work together.
Professor Shuckmsith OBE, a Carnegie Fellow, said: "The notion that universities have a monopoly on knowledge production that must be transferred out to users is outdated. Both practitioners and academic institutions are knowledge creators.
"Universities and the third sector have a shared interest in achieving impact and have different types of knowledge and expertise that they can bring to the table. There are many mutual benefits which should encourage cooperation."
As well as drawing on existing research, the Carnegie UK Trust has consulted with stakeholders from across the UK and held roundtable events in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Newcastle.
The document sets out two models for better interaction including a radical co-production model which merges the boundaries between universities and the public. It also identifies 19 specific recommendations for universities, the third sector and funders to aid more effective collaboration. These include:
• Employing specialist knowledge exchange workers to facilitate interaction between the worlds of social science, policy and practice;
• Investing in innovative ways of finding spaces for academics and practitioners to exchange knowledge;
• Resourcing the provision of gateways through which third sector organisations, businesses and other publics can make contact with researchers in universities.
Professor Shucksmith said: "There are some barriers we must also consider. Academic institutions produce highly valued evidence but this is not always readily accessible. Measures of academic success are often too narrowly focused, encouraging institutions to turn inwards and away from society. A number of universities are however already engaging in activity that involve deeper interaction and partnership working with communities and the third sector and we hope this report will act as a stepping stone for more collaborative working moving forward."
Martyn Evans, CEO, Carnegie UK Trust said, "We need to mix the rigour and authority of academic research with the passion and drive of the voluntary sector. A modern partnership, built upon genuine mutual respect, would mean there is a chance to impact on the most intractable public policy challenges of the 21st century."
Julia Unwin, CEO, Joseph Rowntree Foundation welcomed the report: “Robust academic evidence is a vital ingredient for effective social change but it also needs to be timely, relevant and applicable. In this report Professor Shucksmith sets out how universities can forge deeper partnership with civil society and ensure that their research has impact.”
Downlaod the report here: The InterAction: How academics and the third sector can work together to influence policy and practice?
Press release adapted with thanks from the Carnegie UK Trust
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