Civic universities and community engagement in inter-war England.
Beyond the Lecture Hall. Universities and community engagement from the middle ages to the present day.
University of Cambridge Faculty of Education, Cambridge, pp. 31-48.
The new universities chartered at the beginning of the twentieth century have been designated the ‘civic universities’ in recognition of the support they received from, and the services they rendered to, their local communities. Some historians have argued, however, that through the first half of the century, they drifted away from local concerns to become more occupied with pure research and national and international academic priorities. This article considers the question of the civic universities’ disengagement from the community through an analysis of the activities of Liverpool University between the wars. There is abundant evidence of sustained and systematic attempts to engage with the community with no indication of any diminution during the period. One can, however, identify trends which tended to divorce the university from the community, primarily through the efforts to establish a discrete student experience.