Frequently Asked Questions about Outreach and Engagement

What is Outreach and Engagement?


Outreach and Engagement is defined as meaningful and mutually beneficial collaborations with partners in education, business, and public and social service. It is:

  • That aspect of research that makes what we discover useful beyond the academic community.
  • That aspect of teaching that enables learning beyond the campus walls.
  • That aspect of service that directly benefits the public.

Outreach and engagement is not new. It is part of what we at universities already do. It is using our teaching, research, and service to address societal issues in partnership with the world around us.

What does it mean to be an "Engaged University"?


An engaged institution designs its teaching, research, and service functions so that it is a collaborative and productive partner with its communities, however community may be defined. In its landmark 1999 publication Returning to Our Roots: The Engaged Institution, The Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities stated that an institution that responds to the following imperatives can be called an "engaged institution."

  • Embedded in the engagement idea is a commitment to sharing and reciprocity.
  • Partnerships are two-way streets defined by mutual respect among the partners for what each brings to the table.

Why is engagement important to the university?

  • Engagement enriches the core activities of the university (research, teaching and service) in many ways.
  • Our mission as a land-grant institution is to lead the way in making our knowledge more accessible to others.
  • Partnerships are an effective way to focus the university’s resources and expertise so they can be brought to bear on societal problems in a coherent way.

What does it mean to be engaged individually?


If you are engaged:

  • You are working collaboratively with an organization, colleague, or entity OUTSIDE the academic community. Examples of this may include working with teachers in a K-12 school, a community group, a governmental agency, or a professional from your discipline.
  • You are bringing your disciplinary expertise to this partnership. Your knowledge as a faculty, staff, or student of The Ohio State University contributes to the partnership.
  • This work is a part of your research, teaching, and/or service. You are helping to a make what you discovered through research useful, you are creating learning opportunities for citizens in off-campus environments or you are providing a discipline-related service to the community.
  • Each partner respects the contributions of and learns from the other(s).
  • Every partnership is unique and based on the needs of the partners. There is not a single way to be engaged.

How does the individual faculty/staff member benefit from being engaged?

  • Enriched teaching
  • Increased student motivation
  • Meaningful interactions with the community
  • Seeing your research, teaching, or service have an impact in the real world
  • A better understanding of the direct consequences of their teaching and research for society
  • Goodwill generated by many outreach and engagement projects
  • Financial support for research or teaching

How do I know if I am doing outreach and engagement work?

If you are involving your teaching, research, and service with the nonacademic community in mutually beneficial collaborations, you are probably participating in outreach and engagement work.

Teaching Examples

  • Teaching undergraduate or graduate courses that include a service-learning, internship, practicum or clinical component that benefits community members
  • Providing distance learning credit or continuing education courses that enable nontraditional students to enroll
  • Teaching extension, continuing education, professional development, or other nontraditional educational programs, workshops, or classes that reach people in their communities

Research Examples

  • Working with industry or health care to transfer your research discoveries into treatments, products, or practices
  • Conducting research in partnership with a community organization or school and then using what you learn to affect people’s lives or their environments
  • Using your research to inform decision makers on policy issues

Service Examples

  • Serving on community boards because of your disciplinary expertise
  • Consulting with community organizations
  • Advising alternative spring breaks or student groups that have community service components

How are we encouraging outreach and engagement at Ohio State University?

  • Embedding outreach and engagement in colleges and units and supporting their work
  • Partnering university-wide outreach and engagement initiatives such as the Office of Outreach and Engagement , OSU Extension and the Office of Service-Learning
  • Developing leadership and structure
  • Making current activities more visible and cataloguing current outreach and engagement initiatives
  • Encouraging, nurturing, and recognizing effective university-community partnerships through communication, education, funding, and awards

How do students benefit from outreach and engagement?

"Close partnerships with the surrounding community help demonstrate that higher education is about important values such as informed citizenship and a sense of responsibility. The newer forms of public scholarship and community-based learning help produce civic-minded graduates who are as well prepared to take up the complex problems of our society as they are to succeed in their careers." (The Kellogg Commission, 1999, p. 13). Student benefits include:

  • The opportunity to link theory to practice and apply learning in community contexts
  • Access to research, new knowledge, internships, and various kinds of off-campus learning opportunities
  • An enhanced sense of civic responsibility
  • Personal, interpersonal, and leadership development
  • An appreciation for diversity
  • Deeper understanding of subject fields and problem-solving ability
  • Practical opportunities to prepare for the world and careers they will enter

How can students get involved?

How does the community benefit from outreach and engagement?


The issues affecting our communities are complex and multifaceted. By partnering with the universities and colleges in your community, the energies and talents of faculty and students are engaged in addressing these issues. By being involved through outreach and engagement you are also helping your community's future leaders—today's college students—learn about issues communities face and how they can make a difference.

How can the community get involved?