HPG’s core values are reciprocity, accountability, and transparency.


University-Community Partnerships are reciprocal when:

—All parties are benefiting from the relationship; This does not necessarily mean they are receiving the same benefit, as participants might want different things out of the relationship, and must be allowed to define what is beneficial to them.

—All parties are sensitive to each others’ interests, priorities, capacities, and needs.

—Participants take the time to build understanding and listen to each others’ perspectives, without making assumptions or relying on stereotypes.

—Participants’ right to set their own boundaries is fully respected.

—The relationship is dynamic, adapting to the needs of all participants and responding to their in-put over time.


University-Community Partnerships are accountable when:

—The relationship is subject to regular critical evaluation.

—This evaluation does not simply measure the “output” of projects, but values the participants’ learning and relationship-building experiences as ends in themselves.

—The form of evaluation is democratic, rather than technocratic; This means assessment comes from all parties, as equal stakeholders, and not from a top-down, “expert” perspective.

—Research and evaluation are conducted in an ethical manner, in keeping with the American Educational Research Association’s Code of Ethics for Human Research.


Some examples of evaluation methods are:

  • Participant surveys, which can provide demographic data and solicit feedback from large numbers of participants at once.
  • In-depth interviews, which collect individual participants’ self-reports of how the university-community partnership has affected them.
  • Program observation, in which someone agrees to sit in on a program or event and provide feedback based on agreed-upon criteria.
  • Document reviews, in which quantitative data about the project, such as event attendance levels and cost are taken into account.
  • Focus groups, which solicit the opinions and perspectives of participants in the form of small-group discussions.
  • Portfolios, which encourage participants to collect and share products of their experiences, such as journal entries, for later reflection.


University-Community Partnerships are transparent when:

—Shared goals are clearly articulated, and boundaries are clearly established.

—All parties are let in on important information and decision-making processes.

—The results of project evaluations are freely available to all participants.

—Research findings stemming from the partnership are freely available, and are not hidden behind a paywall or institutional gate-keeper.

—No participant is left out because they lack the credentials or connections to navigate university bureaucracy.


Further Reading:

Community-University Partnerships: What Do We Know? by Barbara A. Holland, Sherril Gelmon, Lawrence W. Green, Ella Greene-Moton, Timothy K. Stanton (2003)

Democratically Engaged Assessment: Reimagining the Purposes and Practices of Assessment in Community Engagement Bandy, J., Price, M. F., Clayton, P. H., Metzker, J., Nigro, G., Stanlick, S., EtheridgeWoodson, S., Bartel, A., & Gale, S. (2018)

Rhode Island Council for the Humanities Evaluation Toolkit

Visitor Studies Association Resources Page