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What is engagement?

Public, or community, engagement is vital to Virginia Tech’s mission. We recognize the need for and value of engaging in partnerships with other educational institutions, public and private industries, governments, and local communities to achieve our tripartite mission.

According to the Kellogg Commission, “an engaged institution is responsive to the needs of today’s students and tomorrow’s. It enriches the student experience by bringing research into the curriculum and offering practical experience in the world they will enter. It forms partnerships of faculty, students and communities to put knowledge and skills to work on today’s most critical problems.”

This type of engagement is at the core of Virginia Tech’s land-grant mission of teaching and learning, research and discovery, and outreach and engagement. “Our engagement leaders work collaboratively to build strong university-community partnerships anchored in the rigor of scholarship and designed to help build community capacity,” said Susan E. Short, associate vice president for engagement in Outreach and International Affairs.

The foundation of engagement


Collaborations are two-way streets defined by mutual respect for what each brings to the table.


Work is planned together, is mutually beneficial, and builds capacity and competence of all parties.

What is engaged research?

Engaged research encompasses research approaches that emphasize collaboration and partnership with communities or stakeholders outside the university. It goes beyond simply informing the public about findings; rather, it actively involves communities in the research process, leading to more relevant and impactful outcomes for everyone involved.

What is engaged teaching?

Engaged teaching integrates academic instruction with community service. In this model, students apply what they are learning in the classroom to real-world situations and community needs. The goal is to create reciprocal partnerships between educational institutions and the community, fostering a sense of civic responsibility and promoting the application of knowledge for the greater good.

What is engaged service?

Engaged service typically refers to the active involvement of faculty, students, and staff in community service and outreach initiatives. It goes beyond traditional academic roles, emphasizing the university’s commitment to contributing meaningfully to the broader community. Engaged service activities involve applying academic expertise, resources, and skills to address community needs and promote positive social change.

Virginia Tech is a community-engaged university

Community engagement is part of Virginia Tech’s DNA. True to our mission as a land-grant institution, we are committed to being a force for good in communities across the commonwealth and beyond.

Since 2006, the university has been recognized as a Carnegie Foundation Community Engaged University. Of the more than 4,000 universities in the country, it is one of only 80 that can claim that distinction as well as the Carnegie system’s elite “R1” research status.