The Provost's Committee on University Outreach (1993) defined outreach as scholarship that cuts across teaching, research, and service. It involves generating, transmitting, applying, and preserving knowledge for the direct benefit of external audiences. MSU advocates a scholarly model of outreach and engagement that fosters a reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship between the University and the public.
As a land-grant institution, Michigan State University has a mandate to develop, apply, and share knowledge to serve the public good. MSU advocates a scholarly model of outreach and engagement that fosters a reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship between the University and the public.
The MSU model involves the co-creation and application of knowledge, a relationship that increases both partners' capacity to address issues. Outreach and engagement also provides university scholars with new information for publications and other communications that reflect the realities outside the laboratory. Such new knowledge can sometimes be incorporated into future research and teaching and applied in new settings.
Outreach and engagement occurs when scholarship is applied directly for the public good and when the relationship between partners is reciprocal and mutually beneficial.
Given that most social issues are complex in nature, MSU promotes multidisciplinary approaches to outreach and engagement. It does this by:
- developing the Office of University Outreach and Engagement, which supports outreach work and creates teams to address community-identified social issues
- providing seed funding for collaborative research projects that have a significant outreach component
- investing in centers, institutes, and communities of interest around issues such as children's health, community vitality, land policy, and usability and accessibility related to information technology
Outreach and Engagement Scholarship is Teaching, Research, and Service
The University's academic mission involves teaching, research, and service. When these activities are implemented beyond the university environment and are for the immediate and direct benefit of the public, they are considered outreach:
- Teaching is a scholarly activity; not only does teaching occur in traditional classes on campus, but also in nontraditional settings--off-campus seminars or workshops, in the workplace through technical assistance programs, or online via the Web.
- Research is a scholarly activity, not only for the purpose of advancing knowledge within a discipline or field but also across disciplines in response to issues identified by other organizations and agencies.
- Service may be less readily embraced as a scholarly activity, but scholars recognize its importance when they serve on professional committees, provide medical or therapeutic services, testify before the legislature, serve on government commissions, or report on studies of societal or global problems.
These activities are simply different expressions of the scholar's central concern: knowledge and its generation, transmission, application, and preservation. Outreach enriches and sustains the intellectual vitality of scholarship throughout the campus and beyond.
Please refer to the Documents page for reports and articles about the scholarship of outreach and engagement.
Engaging in Outreach Scholarship
If you are interested in engaging in outreach scholarship, the Office of University Outreach and Engagement (UOE) can help you establish a partnership with other faculty and community groups on topics and in locations of your interest. Contact UOE for details.