14 Pages

Introduction: Inside and Out—What’s It All About?

In a collection of essays on the responsive university, Braskamp and Wergin

state that “The academy does not often believe and act as though the campus is

in the world and the world is the campus” (Braskamp & Wergin, 1998). In his

examination of the University of Limerick, Dineen (1995) makes the point that in

1972 the idea that a university would have a direct interest in the economic and

social development of its immediate region was “a radical departure from the

existing concept and practice of university institutions both in Ireland and several

other European countries” (p. 140). “Twenty years later,” he notes, “there is still

a degree of skepticism about university institutions which do not operate in

‘splendid isolation’ from their environment” (p. 140). In this book we intend

to challenge such skepticism and make clear the case for the importance of

an “engaged university” in the economic and social development process. We

contend here that a university intent on playing a catalytic role in social and

economic development beyond simply the theoretical can indeed have a sustained

and positive impact when its on-and off-campus efforts are guided by a reflective

institution-wide and region-wide discourse (Forrant & Silka, 1999).