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Community Engagement


What is Community Engagement?

Community engagement at McMaster University values the expert knowledge and passion that members of the community (from local to global) have about their communities and issues affecting them; it fosters ongoing collaboration between University and community partners on how to better understand and consider the issues identified as priorities by local and global communities.  Community engagement at McMaster involves performing research, teaching and service for or with community members and partners for the public good.

What is Community-Engaged Education?

Community-engaged education at McMaster aims to provide students with the opportunity to integrate their academic knowledge with experiences in the community to address social, economic, environmental and health concerns.

Community-engaged education is a type of experiential education that enables students to learn from and give to communities. Community-engaged education can occur both within a course as well as through a co-curricular experience.

CityLAB students showing their poster,
Students sit in a computer lab, listening to a lecture.

What does the Office of Community Engagement do?

With a wide range of expertise, our staff are a resource for making connections in the McMaster and Hamilton communities and offer research, education, and service opportunities.

If you have ideas about a specific project or initiative, we can help you move them into action by creating opportunities to build relationships, share knowledge, and to ultimately make a difference through your work.  We also support programs that enable experiential education both on- and off-campus to help you develop your network, skills, and learning outside the classroom.

Why should I get involved with Community Engagement?

Whether through a volunteer opportunity, course, practicum placement, service learning opportunity, or otherwise, there are many ways that students can get involved in and learn about community engagement while studying at McMaster.

Principles of Community Engagement

Action-oriented principles of community engagement were co-developed between community and campus partners to provide a framework for how to work together. The principles include: Relationships, Reciprocity, Equity, Continuity, Openness to Learning, and Commitment to Act.

Picture of students looking at a poster and meeting at a conference table.

How Can I Get Involved?

Designed to provide a foundation of knowledge and skills for participation in communities regardless of one’s primary field of study, the Interdisciplinary Minor in Community Engagement allows you to deepen and expand your understanding of communities and develop skills for principled and effective engagement.

You are required to take CMTYENGA 2A03 and 21 additional units from the three course lists that include theory, experiential, and capstone courses.  With over 160 courses from all six Faculties, you can learn about diverse disciplines related to community engagement and focus on any area that is of interest to you or relevant to your future career.

Learn more about the Interdisciplinary Minor in Community Engagement. 

Offered each fall semester, CityLAB Semester in Residence is a 15-unit course designed for passionate, motivated, and enthusiastic students.  If you want to learn from the community, apply your studies to make change, and expand your personal and professional networks then this course is for you!

Students and staff from the City of Hamilton co-create and design an innovative real-world project to address a problem, gaining valuable insight and data that can be shared and potentially scaled up.  Students in any faculty from mcMaster are welcome to apply.

Learn more about CityLAB.

Students can also participate in CityLAB through 3- or 6-unit courses offered at McMaster.

The McMaster Research Shop works with public, non-profit, and community organizations in Hamilton to provide plain-language answers to research questions.

Want to learn new research skills or apply what you know to a community-identified question or need?  Volunteer with the Research Shop!  You will have the opportunity to work in a small team over the course of the semester (typically for 5 hours/week).

Learn more about the Research Shop.

Additional Student Opportunities

Community Engagement Curriculum Learn More

The Interdisciplinary Minor in Community Engagement is open to students in all faculties and it allows you to deepen and expand your understanding of communities and develop skills for principled and effective engagement. Students are required to take CMTYENGA 2A03 and 21 additional units from three course lists that include theory, experiential and capstone courses.

Research Shop Volunteer Learn More

The McMaster Research Shop works with public, non-profit, and community organizations in Hamilton to provide plain-language answers to research questions.

We’re always seeking enthusiastic and motivated students interested in applying their research skills to a community-identified question or need. Expected commitment: 5 hours/week for 3-4 months.

Semester at CityLAB Learn More

The CityLAB Semester courses are for passionate, motivated, and enthusiastic students who want to learn from the community, apply their studies to make change, and expand their personal and professional networks. Students in any faculty from McMaster or Redeemer are welcome to apply. We recommend that applicants speak with their academic advisors as soon as possible to see how they can incorporate the CityLAB courses into their program requirements.

MacChangers Learn More

MacChangers is a co-curricular program that pairs multidisciplinary teams with community partners to propose innovative solutions to local challenges facing the Hamilton community, as well as the global community.

Over the school year, MacChangers teams will develop their professional and transferable skills through workshops on a variety of topics, such as human-centred design, financial viability of solutions, prototyping, communication, teamwork, leadership and problem-solving. Students will utilize these new skills to develop unique and robust proposals to solve local challenges.

Student Success Centre Learn More

Are you looking to explore diverse learning opportunities to support your academic, personal, and professional growth? Whether it be mentorship, orientation, career-planning, service-learning, experiential learning, or developing your academic and leadership skills, the Student Success Centre can help.

McMaster Students Union (MSU) Learn More

The MSU represents undergraduate students on campus and works to provide students with political representation while also enhancing student life. Alongside the many clubs that operate both at McMaster and in the broader Hamilton community, the MSU facilitates and supports a great many opportunities for students to get engaged.

Student Volunteer Circles Learn More

Student Open Circles mentors and empowers students from diverse backgrounds in personal and spiritual reflection, community service, and leadership development.

School of Graduate Studies Learn More

If you are a graduate student and interested in getting involved in potential research or educational opportunities that allow you to engage with communities you can visit the School of Graduate Studies website.

McMaster Alumni Association Learn More

The Alumni Association acts as an agent for alumni involvement within the University, within the activities of the Association and in external activities representing the interests of the Alumni Association.

Graduate Students Association (GSA) Learn More

The GSA provides opportunities for graduate students to get involved in social, athletic, and intellectual activities. Many of these relate directly to broader engagement with the community.

International Student Services (ISS) Learn More

ISS provides support for international students and internationally-minded Canadian students at McMaster University. We promote an internationally informed and cross-culturally sensitive community with a shared purpose: the student experience.

OPIRG McMaster Learn More

OPIRG McMaster is a dynamic resource centre supporting student and community volunteers who are educating and taking action on important social and environmental issues.

McMaster Children & Youth University Learn More

Volunteer with the McMaster Children & Youth University (MCYU) with our MCYU in the City Workshops program.

Learn innovative teaching approaches! Design and present engaging workshops for youth and their families based on your work here at McMaster.