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Community Engagement Priorities

The Network for Community-Campus Partnerships is the structure that supports McMaster’s work with our community partners to achieve our collectively-developed goals. Managed by the Office of Community Engagement, the Network will foster ongoing relationship-building between community and University partners through a variety of approaches to take on short-term actions that focus on the pillars of community engagement in contributing to work towards our long-term goals. ​


Working Group Priorities

The Office of Community Engagement will be developing ​three working groups over 2016-2017 to focus on community-engaged research, education, and service priorities. Please click the links below to view the priorities of each group:


Theme Area Priorities

The Office of Community Engagement will be developing three theme area groups to ​foster community-campus partnerships in areas of common interest. ​​To move these groups forward, the Office of Community Engagement will be using language associated with "Social Labs".

Social labs are an innovative response to the complex social challenges facing the world today. Similar to scientific research labs, which bring together a wide range of experts to explore and answer integrated scientific and technical problems, social labs are comprised of diverse stakeholders who work together to address complex social problems. Social labs differ from traditional strategic planning and technocratic approaches to problem-solving in three major ways[1]:

  • The members of the lab engage in multi-disciplinary collaboration.
  • The work of social labs is largely experimental in nature.
  • The solutions proposed by social labs are often systemic in scope.

[1] Hassan, Zaid. 1014. The Social Labs Revolution. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. page 3.

The following theme areas were identified by community and campus partners at our June 2016 strategic plan launch:

Next steps for each lab will include:

  • Identify co-chairs and partner units, groups, or organizations to form the lab
  • Formalize the structure and function of the group to include goals, budget, and responsibility of members
  • Plan and facilitate a deliberative dialogue focused on networking, knowledge sharing, project ideation, and summarizing the goals and objectives of the lab.
  • Develop a longer-term agenda and workplan for each lab
  • Support the formation of new partnerships through providing catalyst funding and proactively connecting individuals and groups with common research, education, or service interests related to each theme

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.

  • Build Capacity: 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.
  • Reduce Barriers: 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.
  • Communication: 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.
  • Facilitate Action-Oriented Conversations: 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.
Click below for a document that provides priorities for all four pillar areas:

Community Engagement Priorities

Interested in learning more?

​Click here to learn more about McMaster's Community Engagement Strategic Plan.