Unraveling University–Community Engagement

A Literature Review

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Abstract

University–community engagement has been implemented by anincreasing number of universities across the world, in a period characterized by growing international competition. The growth of interest in university–community engagement has led to multiple definitions of this term and a high level of complexity in defining what it entails. Using a literature review, this article offers a critical assessment of the academic literature on university–community engagement. The article aims to provide insight into trends, commonalities, and variations in the literature, to enable the identification of an agenda for future research. We identify four main gaps in the literature, which we suggest addressing through a more critical conceptual discussion supported by empirical research, broadening the theoretical lens, and using particular research approaches, such as theories of change. Altogether, this will enable a more comprehensive understanding of the concept of university–community engagement.