The Shopfront Community Program: A Blueprint for Work-Integrated Learning and Engaged Scholarship in Higher Education

Authors : Dr. Zozan Balci

Volume/Issue : Volume 7 - 2022, Issue 3 - March

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It has been widely accepted that higher education can and must play a role in developing civicminded professionals who can respond to complex societal challenges (Dey et al., 2009). This suggests that educational institutions should not only focus on the intellectual development of their students, but play a much more critical role in providing the necessary skills and experiences to develop “civic-minded graduates” (Dey et al. 2009; Steinberg & Bringle 2011). In line with this, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Australia, launched the Shopfront community program which has been in operation for 25 years. Housed within the Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion, the program is the longest-standing curriculum-based community engaged learning initiative, that acts as a gateway between faculties and small- to medium not-for-profit organizations. Quantitative and qualitative data collected since its inception, as well as case studies from 2020 and 2021, provide the evidence-base for the ongoing use of Shopfront as a blueprint for successful work-integrated learning in higher education globally. The findings indicate that by matching suitable community projects with undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs, faculties are able to enhance their level of engaged scholarship and support the work of non-profit organizations whilst developing civic-minded students. Further, the findings provide an indication of the vital ingredients necessary to develop a long-standing reciprocal relationship between students, faculties and community organizations. The case studies presented provide evidence that students benefit from communityengaged learning, academics receive support in establishing networks to embed work-integrated learning, and community partners receive resources they would normally not have access to.

Keywords : work-integrated learning; engaged scholarship; civic-mindedness; higher education; social impact; community engagement.


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31 - December - 2023

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