A variety of approaches are needed to support community partners as well as McMaster students, faculty, and staff who are interested in developing skills and competencies for principled, sustainable, and reciprocal partnerships. It is also crucial to develop sufficient structures and policies for recognition which will ensure that we are supporting, acknowledging, and encouraging those who pursue community-engaged education or research partnerships.
A major barrier to any partnership development is that people (both partners and colleagues at McMaster) do not know where to go, who to talk to, or what resources exist to support partnership building. There is a need to improve access to (and awareness about) both physical spaces (on and off campus) and virtual spaces that can help partners use these pathways to navigate community-campus partnerships.
This pillar will focus on improving awareness of the work of community-engaged individuals, research and education outcomes, available resources, and upcoming opportunities and events. Communicating in plain language, being clear about steps that partners can take to engage, developing visual pathways for engagement, maintaining the community engagement database, and raising the profile of community liaisons across the University can improve partnership opportunities and outcomes.
Organized in partnership with community and campus partners, face-to-face meetings on specific themes or topics will support relationship building and ongoing relationships that can lead to potential partnership opportunities. Tying funding opportunities to specific topics can encourage ideas to move towards projects, while sharing outcomes of conversations or the conversations themselves (e.g. in an online repository) can encourage others to connect to ideas while also informing actions going forward.