Community academic partnerships

Perfecting partnering: Improving the effectiveness of university–community collaborations

Community academic partnerships Biology in a societal and environmental context Complex systems and sustainability

Universities often collaborate with external groups in order to address community needs in areas such as health, education and workforce development. Such partnerships are often subject to evaluation from the perspective of the university – are they running smoothly, are they meeting their objectives, are they sustainable? But who assesses whether they’re successful from the community’s point of view?

A new research group has been established by the Charles Perkins Centre to look at how effectively universities are engaging with communities in mutually effective, transformative and sustainable ways.

To address the broad range of areas in which academic–community engagement occurs, the group will bring together researchers from the fields of medicine, health, rural health, education, social work, engineering, agriculture and environmental studies to assess the outcomes of these partnerships for the partnering organisations (such as health and education services) and the broader community as well as for the university.

Led by Professor David Lyle from the Sydney Medical School, researchers will focus particularly on the social interactions involved and the relationships formed; the learning and professional experiences gained by participating university students; and the effects on community health, wellbeing, knowledge, capacity, performance and social and cultural change.

The group’s unique cross-disciplinary composition will allow it to examine the issue from the perspective of multiple theoretical frameworks, providing new insights into how mutually successful partnerships are planned, developed, implemented and sustained – and informing how universities engage and collaborate with communities in the future.

The project leader

David Lyle is the Head of Department of Rural Health, Broken Hill.

The collaboration team



Debra Jones


Dr Susan Kirby

Senior Research Fellow, Broken Hill Department of Rural Health

Sydney Medical School

Professor Lindy McAllister

Professor and Associate Dean

Work Integrated Learning

Faculty of Health Sciences

Koshila Kumar

Lecturer, Medical Education

Office of Medical Education

Michele Daly

Research Fellow

Northern Clinical School

Dr Mary Lam

Research Fellow

Faculty of Health Sciences

Associate Professor Susan Goodwin

Associate Professor

Associate Dean, Research

Faculty of Education and Social Work

Melanie Davern