New model to guide community engagement

A provisional model for governance and administration of McMaster’s community engagement activities has now been put into place.

In his recent document, Global and Community Engagement at McMaster: Where FWI has brought us, and where we are going, President Patrick Deane outlined structural changes that will allow the University to foster and sustain community engaged education and research while facilitating closer links between McMaster and the surrounding community.

“We need to establish an approach to community engagement that is transformational rather than relegate it to the status of a ‘free-floating add-on,’ writes Deane. “We need to integrate it fully and meaningfully into the work of the academy- into our normal activities of exploration, questioning, and synthesizing, and subject to the most rigorous academic values.”

The formation of the Network for Community Campus Partnerships,* which brings together individuals from across campus to coordinate activities and discuss issues critical to the success of community engagement activities at McMaster, has been an important step in this process.

To further ensure that community-engaged activities are formally incorporated into the University structure and receive the support needed, community engagement will now be part of the portfolio overseen by the AVP Faculty, Susan Searls Giroux.  A Director of Community Engagement will be appointed to lead this important work.

“The Director of Community Engagement, with the help of the network, will be a valuable resource to faculty and others at the University seeking to undertake community-engaged research and education, while continuing to foster productive and positive relationships with our community partners,” says Searls Giroux. “These governance changes will provide McMaster with the necessary infrastructure to approach community engagement in a more coordinated way and to embed this important work into the fabric of the University.”

Priorities for the network include; enabling community engaged education, establishing resources and infrastructure to support community engagement and forging sustainable and reciprocal links between the University and the broader community.

The group will also oversee the creation of a website and database for increased visibility and coordination of community engagement activities, and will help develop pathways for individuals to become involved in community engaged opportunities.

*A key recommendation to emerge from the Community Engagement Task Force.