Skip to McMaster Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to main content
McMaster logo

Community Engagement


McMaster’s Principles of Community Engagement were co-developed with community and university partners as part of the University’s community engagement strategic planning process in 2016. 

Appendix A

Principles of Community Engagement

The following action-oriented principles were co-developed by community and University partners to inform our community-campus partnerships:

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

Appendix B

Community Engaged Research includes:

Action research: a family of research methodologies that pursue action (or change) and research (or understanding) at the same time. Simply put, it is “a way of generating research about a social system while simultaneously attempting to change that system. While conventional social science aims at producing knowledge about social systems (some of which may eventually prove useful to those wishing to effect change), action research seeks both to understand and to alter the problems generated by social systems.”1

For the purposes of this award, Community-Based Research (CBR) and Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) are equally valued. Some researchers and academics debate differences between these and related approaches, but both approaches clearly centre participation from community members affected by the research or topic of research. For our purposes we will consider them equally.

Community-Based Research is a collaboration between community groups and researchers for the purpose of creating new knowledge or understanding about a practical community issue in order to bring about social change and/or action. It is built from the strengths of communities and is grounded in social justice and equity. It is based on reciprocity and aims to provide mutual benefits to all partners involved. In CBR, knowledge is understood to take many forms, and how data is gathered, understood and shared is done in multiple ways to a variety of audiences. It provides opportunities for co-learning and supports ongoing collaborations among those involved. To this end, it must be “relevant, equitable, and action-oriented” (Hills & Mullett, 2000).2

Community-Based Participatory Research focuses on social, structural, and physical environmental inequities through active involvement of community members, organizational representatives, and researchers in all aspects of the research process. Partners contribute their expertise to enhance understanding of a given phenomenon and integrate the knowledge gained with action to benefit the community involved.3

Program evaluation is “the systematic assessment of the design, implementation or results of an initiative for the purposes of learning or decision-making.” To the extent that an evaluation involves the participation of program users in determining definitions and/or indicators of success, and that evaluation findings are used to shape program elements and design, it can be considered to be a form of community-engaged research.

Knowledge Mobilization “means brokering relationships between researchers and non-academic research partners so that research and evidence can inform decisions and understanding about public policy, professional practice and other applications. Knowledge mobilization services include methods of knowledge transfer, knowledge translation and exchange, and extend them to include the co-production of knowledge. Knowledge mobilization turns research into action.”


  1. Troppe, Marie. Participatory Action Research: Merging the Community and Scholarly Agendas. Providence: Campus Compact, 1994.
  2. Drawn from: Israel et al., Review of community-based research: Assessing partnership approaches to improve public health. Annual Review of Public Health. 1998;19:173-202;  Israel et al. Critical issues in developing and following CBPR principles. In: Minkler M, Wallerstein N, eds. Community-Based Participatory Research for Health: From Process to Outcomes. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008:47-66; Schulz et al. Development and Implementation of Principles for Community-Based Research in Public Health, Journal of Community Practice, 1997; Hills & Mullett. (2000). Community-based research: creating evidence-based practice for health and social change, Paper presented at the Qualitative Evidence-based Practice Conference, Coventry University, May 15-17 2000. Coventry, UK. Retreived from
  3. Israel BA, Schulz AJ, Parker EA, Becker AB, Community-Campus Partnerships for Health. Educ Health (Abingdon). 2001; 14(2):182-97.