The concept of universities engaging with communities and organisations beyond their walls, is a recurring theme throughout this podcast series. Indeed, it was the submission by the distinguished American scholar, Ernest Boyer a quarter of a century ago, that universities should become much more vigorous partners in the search for answers to the most pressing social problems of the day, that was one of the central motivations for us launching this endeavour in the first place. To date in the series, our primary focus has been on the nature and significance of some of these most critical social, economic, and ecological issues that include climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. To date we have placed less emphasis on the actual practicalities of the engagement process.
How do individual and groups of academics actively engage with members of the public in mutually beneficial ways? How do universities as formal institutions go about developing partnerships with the communities of their region as well as with other public organisations in both the public and private sectors?
In this episode we turn our attention to exploring an actual example of how this university, of the Sunshine Coast, is engaging with a wide range of community groups, commercial businesses, and other organisations and institutions. In this instance, the initiative is a specific and vital quest to contribute to the reduction in the number of suicide attempts and completions up here on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland.
Richard’s guest today is Mervat Quirke who is the Manager of Strategic Partnerships/Community Engagement and Development at the Thompson Institute at the University of the Sunshine Coast which is a world-class hub for research, teaching, and clinical services for Australia’s most pressing mental health issues.