Community Research and Engagement Network

Community Research and Engagement Network

1. Mission statement

This network will work hard towards community learning for adult learning that exists in formal and informal contexts but which uses innovative models that start with the diverse needs of these learners not with what educational providers or funders offer. Specifically, we intend to focus on the means by which participants are able to take ownership or be more involved in determining the form of both their educational practice and the outcome of their learning.

This will see participant engagement as central within a form of critical pedagogy, working alongside social justice models such as capabilities for better evidencing and supporting outcomes for access and inclusion in lifelong learning approaches.

2. Main aims

Develop a national network which plans, supports and encourages community engagement in research and evidence development in all its possible formats. This will, in turn, feed into the work (policy and practice) of the UALL network.

Ensure that any repository captures the breadth and depth of participant research and engagement from the micro to the national/international, with research informed by experience as well as difference, whether this is informal or formal, supporting a broad range of participant engagement needs.

3. Objectives

-        Building partnerships across third/business sectors in order to organise, support and develop a ‘citizen inspired knowledge exchange’ bringing a diverse and different community element to the UALL annual conference. This should consider creating a UALL led award or sponsorship recognising community driven activity

-        Develop a national and internationally recognised repository of participant research and activity giving particular attention to social justice and capability across ‘hard to reach’ groups from all communities (both geographical and communities of interest). In the longer term, this repository could become income generating

-        Develop a new and critically innovative approach to formal, informal and non-formal learning contributing to new, flexible curriculum design and collaborative research at community and other educational levels.

4. The network could take responsibility for:

  • Organising the repository seeking national and international contributors as well as creating a communications network which will be able to access all potential participants as agents for change
  • Liaising with and supporting local and international engagement in research activity focussed on critical pedagogy, capabilities, recovery, co-creation/production and community engagement/research.
  • Planning and developing a community element to the UALL annual conference – or at least a new community driven hub within UALL – giving focus to experience and difference in learning
  • Building new partnerships within the UK and beyond from communities

5. The network would begin with the following key questions

  • What can universities do to increase critical pedagogy, capabilities and community research supporting wide inclusion in new and innovative progression pathways?
  • What are the broad challenges facing communities (socially, environmentally and politically) and how can critical research/capabilities led approaches address these challenges within a macro/micro but co-produced framework?
  • What are the alternative engagement arrangements for widening participation and lifelong learning as a result?

6. Repository:

Content themes

There will be at least three separate themes which will work alongside fellow UALL networks and these are as follows:

1.      Community collated evidence of good/best practice (developed alongside existing networks for co-production for instance). – this will include a call for members from these areas from across the network

2.      Evidence (delivery partners) of best and good practice – this falls partly within UALL’s current remit.

3.      New innovations and ideas for developing WP/research activity across communities including communication innovations for engagement of those furthest from point of contact (homeless, those with enduring mental illness, substance ‘misuse’ fields etc).

7. Management

This will fall primarily to the role of Mark Richardson and Penny Llewellyn – but in the true sense of co-production/creation, the aim will be to draw on community expertise to consider new management and support opportunities/initiatives

8. Network meetings.

-        A bi-monthly newsletter will be discussed and if deemed feasible, circulated among the network developing awareness of the scope and the remit of the network. This newsletter will feature community, HE/FE and other relevant ‘news’.

-        We will endeavour to discuss and introduce the possibility of an annual ‘event’ which could coincide with UALL’s annual conference bringing together community research and engagement as well as research activity. This event will fit also alongside the UALL Awards where if sponsorship can be sought to offer community groups the opportunity not just to enter the awards – but to also attend

-        Quarterly meetings – via skype or other social media will be encouraged so as to be able to plan and develop a network approach to organising activity – these will be chaired on a rota basis from each member/institution.

-        Seminars and other information sharing events will be organised as and when feasible alongside other networks/members.

9. Funding opportunities - TBC

10. Joining the network

Membership will be formed through a registration process among interested UALL membership.

In addition, there will be a wider membership sought to include a varied and expansive organisational membership from outside UALL. This will form the basis of a more explicit connect with local community activity and development.

If you are interested in joining this Network and/or would like further information, please contact Mark Richardson


Birkbeck University
Bishop Grosseteste University
University of Bristol
Brunel University
University of Cambridge
Dublin City
Durham University
Hong Kong
Middlesex University
Newcastle University
The Open University
University of Oxford
Trinity Saint David
University of York



  • Links with the major agencies in the sector, and opportunities for advocacy and contribution to policy formulation
  • Continuously-updated intelligence on policy, funding and strategy at the highest levels in the sector
  • Free or reduced price entry to conferences, seminars and workshops
  • Engagement with action, theoretical research and other funded activities
  • Opportunities for free or reduced price UALL publications
  • Membership of specialist networks, acting as communities of practice across the sector in; Employer engagement/CPD, Work-based learning, Widening participation and social inclusion, Women in lifelong learning, Student and staff development



American Association For Adult and Continuing EducationCanadian Association for University Continuing EducationEuropean University Continuing Education network Higher Education Lifelong Learning in Ireland Network (HELLIN)PASCAL International ObservatoryTurkish Council For Continuing Education (TUSEM)Association for Professional, Continuing, & Online Education (UPCEA)

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