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Community Engagement

What we do

The Office of Community Engagement coordinates the Network for Community-Campus Partnerships and creates infrastructure to support partnership requests that cover the following:

Information Box Group

Advice & Guidance

Meet with faculty, staff, students, and community partners in the early stages of an idea or to navigate challenges that arise within a partnership.

Program Development

Provide more in depth support for new courses, programs, or initiatives engaging with the community.

Networking

Introduce and connect to colleagues throughout the greater Hamilton area and throughout the University.

Capacity Building

Deliver workshops, develop tools, and encourage ongoing learning about how campus and community partners can work together.

Strategic Initiatives

Support funding opportunities and institutional projects, and represent McMaster on regional and national networks.

Strategic Priorities: Pillars of Community Engagement

Alongside support of the above groups, the Office of Community Engagement oversees the pursuit of projects that support the strengthening of four pillars of community engagement: Build Capacity, Reduce Barriers, Communication, and Facilitate Action-oriented Conversation.

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.