Our aims

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Engaged Learning Sheffield has the following broad aims:

  • To bring about an organic change of academic culture and embed an awareness of engagement in the curriculum within the ethos of the University.
  • To further develop existing engaged learning activity across the institution, to ensure it is embedded and sustainable.
  • To support the transition of existing activities from extra-curricular to curricular.
  • To provide opportunities for individuals and teams across the institution to share best practice in the area of engaged learning and teaching.
  • To support recognition of engaged learning activities within the curriculum, through a variety of formal and informal channels.

Where does our work fit within the University?

Engaged learning is an important part of the University’s educational offer and civic identity. It is also an important way in which the University delivers on several of its learning and teaching priorities.

The University of Sheffield is an institution with a strong 'civic'  identity: we aspire to work with the communities, citizens and organisations of the region in mutually beneficial ways.

Professor Brendan Stone, Director of Learning & Teaching for the Engaged Curriculum

With regard to the former, it is a manifestation of the democratic principle that knowledge is not just found in universities or amongst academic ‘experts’ but that citizens, communities, and organisations also have expertise and knowledge. In addition, it is a tangible expression of the ideal that education is an endeavour aimed not solely at increasing knowledge, but also about facilitating and guiding collaborative action designed to enhance the public good. Therefore, engaged learning and teaching is an important part of the public value of the University.

With regard to the latter, engaged learning ‘inspires’, ‘broadens understanding’, and situates disciplinary study within ‘intellectual contexts’ by giving students opportunities to encounter and learn from differing perspectives on the world, ‘real-world’ concerns and their innate complexity. Through partnership working with diverse communities, it provides opportunities to understand the importance of, and to cultivate, cultural agility.

Through participating in engaged learning projects, students acquire skills and experience which enhance their employability, and their personal and professional development. Skills which are developed through engaged learning include: team working; the ability to be flexible, resilient, and responsive as projects evolve in unexpected ways; project management; leadership and enterprise; and independent learning.

Engaged learning and teaching frequently arises from or aligns with academics' research, and involves working on a ‘live’ question or issue which is unresolved. Participating students usually undertake their own personal research projects which offer the genuine possibility of producing new knowledge or devising new solutions. Engaged projects frequently operate as communities of learning in which students, staff, and community partners work and research together. Because of students’ role as co-researchers and partners, they are frequently engaged in the development and direction of learning and teaching.