Public Engagement and the University through the Lens of the Law School

SMITH, Peter (2023). Public Engagement and the University through the Lens of the Law School. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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The aim of this thesis was to develop a framework which sets out public engagement as an act of negotiation, discussion, and creation within universities and between universities and communities. The framework uses critical realism to set out ideas of and tensions in the university and engagement, and activity theory to elaborate on how these are realised in the works of engagement. The objectives were to identify the generative mechanisms in engagement; develop an activity system approach to engagement; connect the generative mechanisms activity system elements; and to present an alternative imaginary through the fictional “Riverside” law school. Twenty legal academics were interviewed and their responses analysed using a critical realist thematic approach. From this analysis and the data several key themes emerged. The university is understood in terms of its policy context, professional body influences, and institutional environments. Its work is discussed in relation to economic, developmental, and mixed approaches; its roles encompass teaching, research, and engagement. Engagement is defined by elements of connection with publics, understanding their needs and wants, and responding to those needs and wants. Institutional and individual ideals and values are key factors in engagement, alongside the benefits of engagement to students. The key structural, agential, and cultural elements at work in these themes are discussed and set out as the critical realist (CR) element of the critical realist activity theory (CR-AT) model which connects these elements to practice elements defined by the REMARC (rules-engagers-means-aims-results-community) activity theory (AT) approach. The CR-AT model is one of the original elements of the research, along with the new empirical work on legal academics and engagement, and the “Riverside” model. The model offers a way to connect models and theories of the university to models, theories, and practices in engagement

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Marson, James [0000-0001-9705-9671]
Thesis advisor - Albertson, Katherine [0000-0001-7708-1775]
Additional Information: Director of Studies: Dr James Marson Supervisor: Dr Katherine Albertson
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Justine Gavin
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2023 10:29
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2024 16:15

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