The Heart of Community Engagement Wins 2020 Hamilton Book Award for Best Textbook

October 19, 2020
Professor Patricia A. Wilson's book "The Heart of Community Engagement: Practitioner Stories from Across the Globe" awarded the 2020 Hamilton Book Award for Best Textbook.
Overhead shot of a group of people sitting in plastic lawn chairs around a table in the streets of Monterrey

Congratulations to Community & Regional Planning Professor Patricia A. Wilson for winning the 2020 Hamilton Book Award for Best Textbook for her book The Heart of Community Engagement: Practitioner Stories from Across the Globe. Since 1997, the Hamilton Book Awards have recognized faculty and staff members who have published the best book-length publications, as determined by a multi-disciplinary committee of scholars appointed by the Vice President for Research of The University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Wilson’s research in sustainable community development focuses on individual and social transformation through civic engagement and collaborative action. She uses the methods of appreciative inquiry, social narrative, and participatory action research, and draws upon the theories of communicative action, dialogue and deliberation, and holistic emergent systems.

About the Book:
Drawing on first-hand accounts of action research in the Americas, Africa, and Asia, The Heart of Community Engagement illustrates the transformative learning journeys of exemplary catalysts for community-based change. Practitioners’ stories of community engagement for social justice in the global south elucidate the moments of insight and transformation that deepened their practice: how to deal with uncertainty, recognize their own blind spots, become aware of what is emergent and possible in the moment, and weave an inclusive bond of love, respect, and purpose. Each successive narrative adds a deeper level of understanding of the inner practice of community engagement. The stories illuminate the reflective, or inner, practice of the outside change agent, whether a planner, designer, participatory action researcher, or community development practitioner.

From a shantytown in South Africa to a rural community in India, or an informal settlement in peri-urban Mexico, the stories focus attention on the greatest leverage point for change that we, as engaged practitioners, have: our own self-awareness. By the end of the book, the practitioners are not only aware of their own conditioned beliefs and assumptions but have opened their minds and hearts to the complex and dynamic patterns of emergent change that is possible.

This book serves as a much-needed reader of practice stories to help instructors and students find the words, concepts, and examples to talk about their own subjective experience of community engagement practices. The book applies some of the leading-edge concepts from organizational development and leadership studies to the fields of planning, design, and community engagement practice. Key concepts include the deep dive of sensing the social field, seeing the whole, and presencing the emergent future. The book also provides a creative bridge between participatory action research and design thinking: user-based design, rapid prototyping, and learning from doing.

For more information about the book, book reviews, and orders, visit:…