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Vision, Mission, & Principles of Community Engagement


Working together for an inclusive, sustainable Greater Hamilton

  • Working Together: McMaster is a proactive, responsive, and collaborative partner in our community. We connect people, ideas, and communities.
  • Inclusive: Every person can access, contribute to, and potentially benefit from our work together, irrespective of discipline, gender, ethnicity, age, or ability.
  • Sustainable: Healthy social, environmental, and economic systems support thriving communities. Recognizing and valuing both the interconnectedness and limits of these systems, short-term actions and long-term planning decisions are made with the health and prosperity of both present and future generations in mind.
  • Greater Hamilton: We are embedded in and connected to multiple communities in and around the city of Hamilton. We also recognize that we are connected to and working with many communities outside of Hamilton’s geographical and political boundaries.


McMaster University is a committed member of the greater Hamilton community and broader society and recognizes that true excellence can only be achieved when we are working together with our community partners. We are mindful of the interconnectedness of our globalized world. We value community and public engagement that is mutually beneficial, supports our academic, research, service and civic outreach missions, and collaboratively leads to meaningful outcomes and sustained actions and relationships. Regardless of the discipline, graduates of McMaster will be citizens engaged in multiple communities in multiple ways but we recognize that our relationships within the community we call home are paramount to supporting the vitality and well-being of the greater Hamilton area.

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:

  1. Community engagement will be aligned with all facets of the mission of McMaster University.
  2. The University will value collaborative endeavours such as research, teaching, service and advocacy activities with community stakeholders.
  3. McMaster University will value working with the community for mutual benefit, build relationships based on reciprocity, trust and respect, and recognize global interconnectedness.
  4. The University will respect that there are multiple definitions of “community” and that different disciplines/communities will experience, value and learn about CE differently.
  5. The University will support, recognize and reward community engagement among faculty, staff, students, alumni and retirees.

Action-Oriented Principles

During the Network’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:

  1. Reciprocity: From design, to participation, to the outcomes of a project, we strive to work together for mutual benefit.
  2. Equity: 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.
  3. Continuity: 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.