At VUB, we define Community Engaged Research and Learning or CERL as “knowledge creation and dissemination initiatives, embedded in real-life contexts, where diverse stakeholders are brought together to work around societal challenges and contribute to sustainable transition”. Examples are community-based teaching initiatives, participatory research projects, co-creation activities, citizen science, Science Shop, etc.
Community engagement is not a single activity that should be carried out as an ‘add-on’ to the university’s core activities. Instead, it is to be approached as a complex phenomenon that is at the same time a method (involving collaborative research and learning in and about real-life contexts), a principle (with shared ownership and mutual benefits at its core) and an objective (of contributing to positive societal change). Defined in this way, community engagement can be considered a transversal pillar, applying to all university-based activities, from the core missions of teaching and research, over staff recruitment and promotion policies, marketing and communication strategies, facility and stakeholders management and strategic partnership building, to more peripheral activities and projects.
The VUB CERL team is an enthusiastic transversal crew with people from education department, research department and policy. Pictures will follow soon :-). Our main goal is to 1) support VUB staff, students and external partners in designing and carrying out community engaged projects & activities and 2) to embed CERL in the university DNA. Our projects: