Enabling community-higher education partnerships: common challenges, multiple perspectives

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Irazábal, C., Mendoza-Arroyo, C., Arciniegas, C. O., Sánchez, R. O., & Maya, J. (2015). Enabling community-higher education partnerships: Common challenges, multiple perspectives. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 17, 22-29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2015.07.020


Since planning is an applied discipline that deals with real places and communities and has urban environmental sustainability as one of its primary raison deter, we believe cooperation between communities and higher education helps realize planning principles and strengthen social responsibility and ‘service-learning’ ethics in young professionals. This paper offers an open reflection from local community representatives, students, and professors from diverse institutional and geographic settings on a joint experience in an international, community-higher education planning studio. It focused on analyzing and proposing alternatives to a greenbelt project conceived as a mechanism to contain urban growth while controversially causing the relocation of dwellers of the selfbuilt ‘Commune 8’ located in Medellı´n, Colombia. We stress the relevance of community-higher education partnerships when developing action-oriented research and contextually relevant solutions. We also examine critical factors for these partnerships, such as motivations, approaches to community engagement, protocols for knowledge transfer, challenges, and future visions and directions.