Community experiences of partnering in engaged scholarship:
Davis, Katherine Lynn
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This qualitative study employed a modified narrative inquiry methodology to understand the lived experiences of ten core participants in a partnership between a land-grant research university and a rural community in the southeastern United States. The purpose of this inquiry was to explore and describe partnering experiences in a community-engaged scholarship partnership in the rural South. The study was guided by a singular research question: What are the partnering experiences of rural Southern community partners and land-grant research university partners in a collective impact community-engaged partnership? The study findings highlighted the complex, relational matrix of a collective impact initiative and were ultimately focused on partnering within the community rather than between the community and the university. Thematic narrative analysis revealed four narrative threads in the study participants’ experiences: Creating Community, Embracing Diversity, Establishing Boundaries and Expectations, and Sustaining the Partnership. The conclusions drawn from the findings centered in: (a) the need for mediating intersects of power and reciprocity among partners within the community, (b) enacting partnering values of diversity and inclusion that are constrained by galvanized normative social values, (c) cultivating community capacities for administering backbone organization roles for partnership sustainability, and (d) employing public narrative and narrative inquiry methods of practice and research in community-engaged scholarship. Recommendations for further community-engaged scholarship research included: a) exploring the implications of establishing boundaries and expectations within the community, (b) expanding the types of community-engaged partnerships and study participants included in the study, (c) assessing the extent and impacts of limited diversity and inclusion on community-engaged partnering, (d) evaluating the outcomes of public narrative and narrative inquiry practices and research on community-engaged partnerships, and (e) a deeper analysis of the intersects of power and reciprocity and their impacts on types of community-engaged partnerships and stages of engagement. This study provides a narrow glimpse into the complex, relational partnering experiences that shape a collective impact community-engaged scholarship partnership between a land-grant research university and a rural Southern community.