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Community Engagement

Principles of Community Engagement

Learn more about our principles of community engagement in our online toolkit

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Institutional Principles

Multiple overlapping strategies will be required in order to integrate community engagement into the mission and vision of the University. The following principles aim to guide this integration into all Faculties and administrative areas.

Community engagement will be aligned with all facets of the mission of McMaster University.

The University will value collaborative endeavours such as research, teaching, service and advocacy activities with community stakeholders.

McMaster University will value working with the community for mutual benefit, build relationships based on reciprocity, trust and respect, and recognize global interconnectedness.

The University will respect that there are multiple definitions of “community” and that different disciplines/communities will experience, value and learn about CE differently.

The University will support, recognize and reward community engagement among faculty, staff, students, alumni and retirees.

Action-Oriented Principles

During the Network for Community-Campus Partnership’s strategic planning process over 2015-2016, community and campus partners strongly recommended that a co-developed set of action-oriented principles serve as the foundation of our work together. Informed by our consultations, the principles below will guide our work in initiating, sustaining, monitoring, and evaluating community-campus partnerships. These principles are meant to be broadly applicable for any partnership, from local to global, and can be applied across all Faculties, disciplines, and sectors.

Our Foundational Principle: Relationships Build Community

We can’t have community without relationships—these are the connections that build community. Any successful partnership must be built on trusting and respectful relationships guided by integrity. We realize that relationships take time to develop and thus we commit to providing opportunities to connect people across communities, sectors, and disciplines to foster a genuine and interconnected network of colleagues to work together for an inclusive, sustainable Greater Hamilton Area. The following principles are central to our work:


From design, to participation, to the outcomes of a project, we strive to work together for mutual benefit.


We are conscious of the historical and structural inequities that exist in society and strive to provide access and opportunities to all residents and members of our communities.


Acknowledging that different communities work on different timelines and schedules, we strive to consider both the short and long-term implications of our work together.

Openness to Learning

Change takes time. We are committed to continually learn from and evaluate our work together, reflecting on and sharing both our successes and failures to grow as individuals, partnerships, and communities.

Commitment to Act

We aspire to make a positive difference in our community by sharing and acting on our knowledge to contribute to the greater social good.