Public Health Leader to Address Partnerships Between Universities and Communities

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It’s hard to overstate the intimacy of the relationship between a university and the community that surrounds it. In many ways, each is the product of the other. A school’s unique culture and feel naturally emerges from the area in which it resides; cities grow and progress by embracing the forward-thinking ideas and people of their universities.

For 25 years Al Richmond has cultivated these relationships. Early in a career that has combined interests in social work and public health, Richmond recognized that partnerships between colleges and communities could be the cornerstone of efforts to resolve pressing public health dilemmas.

Current Executive Director of Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, Richmond will speak at UNC Charlotte about his organization’s principles for forging authentic partnerships, and what that can mean for communities.

Since its creation in 1996, CCPH has worked to strengthen ties between college campuses and cities to generate knowledge that directly benefits those communities. The organization also tries to influence policies that shape the conditions and environments in which people live, taking a comprehensive view of public health.

Then-Board Chair Susan Gust explained the groups’ philosophy at its 15thAnniversary conference in 2010:

“Health is all the things that affect us in our lives, the lives of our family and the lives of our community. It’s the lighting quality in this room, how it makes us feel and whether or not it’s right for our eyes. It’s the quality of the water with which we brushed our teeth this morning. It’s how we got here including all the different methods of transportation but also how we got here in our own personal journeys.”

A commitment to equity underlies all of the CCPH’s public health initiatives. The organization believes all people should “have full and equal access to opportunities that enable them to attain their full potential.” Social, economic, geographic, political, and physical environmental conditions all play a role in determining levels of equality, they say.

Aside from hosting conferences and acting as consultants on the issue, CCPH has produced many projects intended to further campus-community cooperation. Its Community-Engaged Scholarship Toolkit provides academic faculty with a set of tools to carefully plan and document their community- engaged scholarship and produce strong portfolios for promotion and tenure.

It also encourages “service-learning” for students. CCPH says that through public service, future public health professionals can learn about the context in which service is provided, and the connection between their service, their coursework, and their roles as citizens.

CCPH Executive Director Richmond’s talk is entitled Principles of Partnership: A Framework for Building Authentic Partnerships. He will speak at UNC Charlotte’s Cone Center, Room 210, on March 24th from 3-5 p.m. During his visit to Charlotte, Dr. Richmond will also host a roundtable with faculty and local public health leaders.

This event is co-sponsored by the College of Health and Human Services, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Metropolitan Studies and Extended Academic Programs.