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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.

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.

The primary goal of McMaster’s community engagement strategy is to establish these principles as the foundation of community-campus partnerships. Embedding these principles in your work and volunteer activities will help you strive to ensure your partnerships benefit the communities you are working with.

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

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.

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.  Please reach out to Jay Carter to find out more.

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.

Available Courses

CMTYENGA 2A03 - Foundations of Community Engagement

CMTYENGA 3A03 – The Art of Change

CMTYENGA 2MC3 - Design & Creation of Engaged Learning for Community Youth

CMTYENGA 2MD3 - Community-based Learning with MCYU

Additional Student Opportunities