In the new blog post by The Collaboratory, Presenter Q&A: Operationalizing Reciprocity in Community Engagement and Public Service Activities, a team of researchers was asked questions about the work they do.
“The role partners play in community engagement and public service activities can be examined as a key characteristic to understand and operationalize reciprocity in partnership work. Utilizing data within the University of North Carolina Greensboro’s and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis’ Collaboratorys, the research team – Dr. Emily Janke, Dr. Kristin Norris, Dr. Terri Shelton, and Kristin Medlin – explored these questions and more.”
The team shared insights during a webinar featuring peer-reviewed work first presented at the 2019 Assessment Institute, Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU), and International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE) conferences.
The Collaboratory also asked the research team about their thoughts about operationalizing reciprocity in community engagement and public service activities.
Q: What are your motivations for this work?
Our research is motivated by our desire to better understand and measure mutual benefit and reciprocity to improve engaged practice. We want to explore what institutions are actually doing in/with community and how institutions and our partners operationalize true reciprocity. We realized that by identifying how we engage partners, we might better understand the barriers to enacting true reciprocity, and explore the factors associated with successful partnerships. If we want to assist scholars and practitioners strengthen their engagement, we first must know what reciprocity looks like under certain circumstances and what it requires. In order to advance institutional policies and practice on campuses and build capacity for both institutions and the field as a whole, we collectively must have a better understanding of what it means to be a truly engaged campus. In creating a common language of reciprocity and mutual benefit we can help institutions better understand and articulate their engagement and ultimately improve practice.
Q: What does reciprocity in community partnerships look like? How can reciprocity be identified in community engagement and public service activities?
A reciprocal practice includes partners in collaborative conversations throughout all phases of the activity, including the development of ideas and plans to pursue jointly conceived efforts, the implementation of the activity, the analysis or interpretation of what was discovered or created, or the assessment of the project’s and partners’ shared efforts. Reciprocity demonstrates the value of the relationship, and the experiences of all partners are expressed by appropriate and relevant inclusion at key moments of the partnership, such as when decisions are being made about how to work together, who will do what, and assessments of how we know we are succeeding in our efforts along the way. In this way, reciprocity builds the hard to earn relationships and partnerships. Reciprocity is the enactment of our asset-based ethos.
Reciprocity is partly operationalized and identified through the role(s) that community organization(s) play in engagement and service activities. By analyzing the roles partners play in a single activity, we suggest that a level of reciprocity can be assigned to both a partnership and an activity. To determine the “level” of reciprocity present in any given activity or relationship, we can analyze the roles played by the partners within the activity.
Read the full piece here.