Priority neighbourhoods key for McMaster

A School of Nursing community engagement initiative is helping to build bridges between McMaster University and priority neighbourhoods in Hamilton.

The Think Tank on Campus-Community Engaged Scholarship was held at the School of Nursing community site in East Hamilton to explore current community engagement activities, discuss priority issues in neighbourhoods, and to develop guiding principles by which the University and the community can work together effectively.

The three-day event brought together resident leaders from the neighbourhoods of Crown Point, McQuesten and South Sherman; representatives from the City’s Neighbourhood Development Strategy; community service providers; and McMaster faculty, staff and students from across the University.

The Think Tank on Campus-Community Engaged Scholarship was held at the School of Nursing community site in East Hamilton to explore current community engagement activities, discuss priority issues in neighbourhoods, and to develop guiding principles by which the University and the community can work together effectively.

The Think Tank on Campus-Community Engaged Scholarship was held at the School of Nursing community site in East Hamilton to explore current community engagement activities, discuss priority issues in neighbourhoods.

“While our campus and local communities are already working together in a number of areas, this Think Tank begins a process for us to work in a more coordinated and purposeful way,” said Ruta Valaitis, Dorothy C. Hall Chair in Primary Health Care Nursing and lead organizer of the Think Tank.  “Finding common ground and gaining an understanding of each other’s worlds is not easy, but working through this process will certainly help us build stronger partnerships.”

Monika Ciolek, chair of the McQuesten Local Planning Team and participant in the Think Tank, said it was important for her to engage on behalf of her community because she feels a “responsibility of being the voice for those who can’t speak for themselves or for those who don’t believe they have options to have their voices heard.”

The Think Tank was one of 29 projects funded through the first request for proposals meant to advance Forward with Integrity priorities. One of the key priorities of Forward the Integrity is to forge closer ties between McMaster and the broader community.

“What the Think Tank moves us toward is an evolution on the university side that is responsive to the concrete needs of the outside world,” says McMaster president Patrick Deane. “What’s going to come out of this has the benefit of being developed in dialogue with the community and, therefore, is more likely to succeed.”

Organizers said the discussions that took place were a vital first step towards finding ways to work collaboratively to address some of the priorities identified by the community– and enhancing the student, faculty and community experience through education and research.