Applying for the award

The Professor Sir David Watson Awards for Community-University Partnerships


Talloires Network
Engagement Australia
National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement
University of Winchester

Also supported by 32 individual donors

Hosted by University of Brighton, overseen by the Founding Committee

These awards have been created in memory of Professor Sir David Watson, to honour his leadership in encouraging community-university engagement and recognise the combined efforts of community and university partners towards making a difference to the lives of people in their shared community.

Community-university engagement is still an emerging field, which can make establishing and developing effective partnerships between community movements and academics difficult. Each year, the awards will celebrate outstanding examples of community-university engagement from across the world, highlighting their impact and raising awareness.

Across the globe, innovative collaborations between communities and academia are addressing some of today’s most complex challenges around social justice, community resilience and inequality. The award scheme will offer winning projects a modest financial reward – but, more importantly, the awards will attract national and international publicity and exposure. This will allow participants from around the world to share stories of their combined efforts, deepening the impact of their work locally and helping to raise awareness of community-university partnership work globally.

The Professor Sir David Watson Awards for Community-University Partnerships acknowledge his leadership in community university engagement and social responsibility in higher education. The scheme is currently receiving headline sponsorship from the following organisations:

The scheme is also is supported by an international group of networks and leaders in the field, including Budd Hall and Rajesh Tandon, the UNESCO co-chairs for Community Based Research (see and the scheme is being administered by colleagues at the University of Brighton.


  • To be considered for the Professor Sir David Watson Awards, projects or programmes first need to be nominated. Anyone can nominate a programme or project – including their own. Nominations must be accompanied by a letter of support from the head of the university and the head of the partnering community organisation.
  • Nominees may be contacted and asked to provide additional information, including contact information for faculty, students, and community members involved with the programme. In some cases, phone interviews may be requested.
  • The Founding Committee, will review nominations and select a shortlist.
  • This shortlist will then be voted on by all who have donated to the awards fund, unless they have given anonymously, to determine a winner who will receive £5,000.
  • The winning nomination will be asked to complete a funds agreement form, outlining their plans for using the funds.
  • The winning nomination will also be asked to take part in publicity (in order to raise awareness of the awards scheme and hopefully additional financial support in the future).
  • Finally, the winning nomination will be obliged to produce an impact report at an agreed later stage, e.g. 6 months after receiving their funds. 



Awards process launch 29 November 2016, NCCPE’s engage conference

Nomination form now available: please click here to download

Nomination forms due: 29 March 2017

Shortlist selected by sub-group: Beginning May 2017

Shortlist notified: End May 2017

Additional information from shortlist due: end June 2017

Donors invited to vote on line for winner from shortlist during July 2017

Winners notified: end July 2017

Winners announced: September 2017

Award to be presented at a location and time to be agreed with the winner. A member of the Founding Committee will present the award

Next awards process launched November 2017


Nominations will be judged by the sub-group determining the shortlist on the following selection criteria:

  • Community-University Partnership and mutual benefit
    • Is there joint university and community partner leadership of the project or programme throughout the process of design, delivery, governance and dissemination
  • University Support
    • Has the university demonstrated commitment to promoting community partnerships?
    • Has the university supported this programme, either financially, in kind, or through policy and recognition of its value?
  • Positive Impact on the Community
    • To what extent has this programme positively affected the community?
    • How many community members have benefited, and to what degree?
    • Has the programme addressed social disadvantage and if so ho
  • Sustainability
    • How will the programme find the needed resources to continue running into the future?
    • What policies or mechanisms support the ongoing success of the programme?
    • Are communities engaged in sustaining the programme for the long-term?


Who is eligible to be nominated? Any community university partnership initiative or programme, anywhere in the world, which has existed for at least two years

Who can submit nominations? Anyone from the University can submit nominations for a programme – students, staff, faculty, and administrators. Those nominating do not have to be participants in the programme and groups may nominate themselves. 

Can more than one nomination be submitted per group or project? No.

How many programmes can be nominated from one university? No more than two. Any additional nominations will not be considered.

Can groups or projects that do not win be re-nominated next year? Yes, but the winner can’t.

Must nominations be written in English?   We prefer that the nominations be submitted in English. However, we will do our best to accommodate nominations submitted in other languages. If you would like information about submitting a nomination in a language other than English, please contact the secretariat for the award

Can I nominate a project anonymously? No. To ensure the accuracy of all nominations, we do ask that you provide your contact information. If the programme you nominate is shortlisted, that programme will be contacted and asked to provide more information at which time they may request a copy of the original nomination form (if they did not know that they were being nominated).

Would it be acceptable to have a letter of support from a university official other than the President or Vice Chancellor? We ask for a letter of support from the institution head in order to guarantee that all programmes being nominated have strong university support (One of the Selection Criteria). Therefore, we recommend that you obtain a letter of support from the highest ranking university official possible. If the President or VC is unavailable, a Pro-VC, Vice-President, or Dean would be acceptable.

What additional materials will be asked of finalists? In order to get a more thorough understanding of the programme, the award secretariat staff may conduct phone interviews (or gather additional information by email) with involved faculty, community groups, students, etc. Supporting documents of achievements and photographs may also be requested.



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