The Community of Practice Model
The CoP model is an effective and sustainable one for cross-sector collaboration. The model provides space for knowledge production in a particular area; it recognizes that no one sector has a monopoly on knowledge and that, by bringing practitioners together with a shared passion from across sectors, existing knowledge is enhanced and innovation takes place to tackle shared challenges. And through the relationships encouraged, the model fosters sustainability; most CoPs become self-sustaining in the long term.
The model has already proved successful in the south west where a CoP for STEM widening participation practitioners has drawn members from across HEIs, schools, FE colleges, museums, science learning centres, STEMNET etc (for further details, see: http://www.hestem-sw.org.uk/widening-participation/wp-projects/?p=10&pp=summary). CoPs have already been used by a number of HEIs to facilitate stronger community-university relations and to develop new knowledge. For examples, see Brighton University’s Community-University Partnership Programme (www.brighton.ac.uk/cupp) and the University of Birmingham’s CoP project (www.bucops.bham.ac.uk).