by Ceri Davies
Since 2003 the Community University Partnership Programme (Cupp) at the University of Brighton has been working to develop relationships between the university and the communities it is located within. At the beginning of 2010 a new programme of work emerged that sought to focus some of these relationships within the very immediate neighbourhoods of university campus buildings across three sites in Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings. This idea builds on the belief that community university working can result in tangible and useful benefits for all partners and sets this in a context of what the university as a ‘good neighbour’ might look like. There is no one definition of neighbourliness that applies to On Our Doorsteps and it may be best to describe the idea, as we are using it, as a set of characteristics. Neighbourly characteristics might include reciprocity, mutual respect and good communication. Crow et al. (2002) highlight the concept of ‘friendly distance’ (from Wilmott, 1986) in neighbourly relations and Stokoe (2006) suggests descriptions of neighbourly practice that include engaging ‘over the fence’ and ‘at the edges of private spaces’.
There is little in the literature which specifically links conceptions of ‘neighbourliness’ to community university partnerships and we think this is an area that is now worth pursuing. Is it possible to ‘build neighbourliness’ using these collaborative approaches, what exactly does the university as a good neighbour look like? What else does the sociology of neighbourly relations have to teach us in understanding community university partnerships in this way? This paper will draw on our historical experience of working in community university partnerships and outline our plans for On Our Doorsteps as a source of new empirical evidence to being answering these questions.
Ceri Davies’ presentation is available here (Powerpoint format).