Community Engagement

"As a land-grant university, A&T bears a special responsibility to partner with the larger society. Creating a culture of thoughtful engagement stimulates innovation, scholarship and creative exchange. A&T intends to become more strategic with local and regional constituents with initiatives that provide educational opportunities to our students and partnerships with faculty and staff that benefit the community. ...

"A&T intends to enhance its role as a driver of regional revitalization in economic development, health, education, culture and civic quality. This will require us to engage students, faculty, staff and external partners in ways that reflect the entrepreneurial emphasis of the 21st century land-grant philosophy. We will utilize and emphasize our core values as we engage and strengthen strategic relationships with community business partners and civic organizations."

-- A&T Preeminence 2020: Embracing Our Past, Creating Our Future

Community engagement at A&T

Community engagement has evolved from the traditional and narrower concept of "public service." As practiced today, engagement is a more reciprocal, two-way connection with the community. Its goal is to develop broader and more continuing relationships instead of one-off projects.

At A&T, engagement includes a variety of programs, including our statewide Cooperative Extension program, summer programs for K-12 students, and professional development courses. In recent years, economic development and community-engaged teaching and research have emerged as especially productive ways to bring the university's resources to bear on community issues and to bring the community's insights to bear on how teachers and researchers work.

As a land-grant university, engagement has always been at the heart of A&T's mission. As a modern university, community-engaged teaching and community-engaged research give our students real-world experience they can apply directly to their professional and personal lives. They give our faculty extraordinary means to engage students and create new knowledge. And they give our community a partner, an ally, and an advocate.

Our community

  • East Greensboro, historically neglected in public and private investment, but creating a better future for itself. 
  • Greensboro, a city facing an economy and future radically different from the industrial age that generated its 20th-century success. 
  • The Piedmont Triad, a region both urban and rural, of the prospering and the left behind. 
  • North Carolina, a state of great economic and educational attainment but also great disparities in education, health and quality of life. 
  • The United States and the world, which need every fine mind and all the new knowledge we can produce.

How we work

Community-engaged teaching includes service learning, internships, and other opportunities for students to work with schools, community organizations and businesses to apply and build upon the knowledge and skills gained in the classroom.

Community-engaged research brings faculty and students together with community organizations, institutions and schools to advance their knowledge together.

Educational outreach includes grant-funded projects targeting specific subjects and groups as well as professional development, continuing education, distance learning, and summer programs and summer camps.

Cooperative Extension delivers educational programs and technology to enrich the lives, the land, and the economy of North Carolina’s limited-resource individuals, families and communities.

Economic development connects corporate and commercial partners with N.C. A&T’s expertise, new technologies, and opportunities for continuing development while creating technology-driven businesses and economic benefits to the regional and state economies. Technology transfer is a key process for translating research into technology-driven businesses and economic benefits to the regional and state economies.

Our goal

Just as community engagement in higher education has evolved from the traditional concept of community service, community engagement itself is evolving into civic engagement, a concept emphasizing engagement as a core value of the university and strategically promoting democratic citizenship.

"Community partnerships in a democratic-centered framework of engagement have an explicit and intentional democratic dimension framed as inclusive, collaborative, and problem-oriented work in which academics share knowledge generating tasks with the public and involve community partners as participants in public problem-solving. ...

"A shift in discourse from 'partnerships' and 'mutuality' to that of 'reciprocity' is grounded in explicitly democratic values of sharing previously academic tasks with non-academics and encouraging the participation of non-academics in ways that enhance and enable broader engagement and deliberation about major social issues inside and outside the university. Democratic engagement seeks the public good with the public and not merely for the public as a means
to facilitating a more active and engaged democracy."

-- Saltmarsh, J., Hartley, M. and P.H. Clayton (2009) Democratic Engagement White Paper. Boston, MA: New England Resource Center for Higher Education.

The concept of civic engagement challenges some traditional tenets of both teaching and research in higher education. It will involve change and learning at all levels of the university. It is an aspirational goal for N.C. A&T and for higher education in general.