Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Higher Ed/Community College Ed

Major Professor

Sarah Kiefer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Howard Johnston, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Martin Tadlock, Ph.D.


community engagement, community-based research, engaged scholarship, ethnodrama, high impact practices


University-community partnerships (UCPs) have significant potential as a way for universities to connect with communities and provide students with High Impact Practices (HIPs). Despite over 20 years of literature calling for increased community engagement, institutions of higher education have been slow to integrate UCPs into the General Education curriculum. Certain components have been identified as necessary for the effectiveness and sustainability of UCPs. However, little is known about the experiences and perceptions of key stakeholders including students, faculty, and community partners who participate in arts-based UCPs. This study investigated these stakeholders’ perceptions regarding participating in arts-based UCPs as part of a General Education course, with a focus on exploring personal narratives about relationships and power dynamics in arts-based UCPs, tensions experienced, and perceptions of how to improve UCPs. Two theoretical frameworks informed the study: Relationship Theory and Organizational Paradox Theory, both of which emphasize tension and power dynamics in relationships and partnerships. Interviews were conducted with students (n = 3), faculty (n = 2), and community partners (n = 2) and university documents were analyzed. Data were examined using deductive and inductive coding as well as dramaturgical coding. The findings are presented primarily as discussion and secondarily as an ethnodrama in order to communicate stakeholder narratives and encourage transformative dialogue. Key themes from findings include the impact of relationships and power dynamics on the effectiveness and sustainability of UCPs, the need for university leadership to address tensions such as financial burden, and the need for increased resources such as infrastructure and staff to improve UCPs.