Let’s Get Community-Engaged!

By this point you might have heard of some mythical document floating around, being whispered about by profs, faculty and students alike in all corners of the school. That’s right, I’m talking about… Forward With Integrity.

So what even is this moving integrity forward business? Forward With Integrity (FWI) is a letter published by our President, Dr. Patrick Deane that basically outlines the priorities for the university. The four pillars are Research, Teaching & Learning, Community Engagement, and Internationalization. You can find more info on all things FWI here.


The pillar I want to talk about today is Community Engagement. I feel like the word is thrown around a lot, but no one really knows what it means. From what I’ve gathered, community engagement, in its simplest form, is just working together with communities of people (e.g. Hamilton community) to benefit society. Obviously that’s a very watered down definition, but I think it gets to the heart of the issue. There are tons of examples of community engagement here at McMaster, and equally as many opportunities for students like you and me to get involved!


Recently, the Network for Community-Campus Partnerships (NCCP), which is kind of the main body for community engagement at Mac, held their “Working Together for an Inclusive, Sustainable Greater Hamilton” event to launch their 5 year plan for community engagement. I won’t go into the nitty gritty details of the event, but basically we got to learn about the university’s plan for community engagement in the next few years and do some round table discussions on working groups and themes for the NCCP. We also got to hear a presentation from Evergreen Hamilton and Jay Carter on best practices of community engagement based on Evergreen’s experiences. The event brought together students, faculty, like Dr. Kimberly Dej and Dr. Sheila Sammon, and community groups, like Environment Hamilton and Raise The Hammer.


The working group I discussed was the one on “Community-Engaged Education”. This includes things like the new Community Engagement minor, MacServe, and internships. Our table had some really interesting discussion about what the definition of community-engaged education even was because, honestly, there are so many different things involved with community engaged education that we don’t have one concrete definition. We also discussed the different objectives for the working group, which included creating a toolkit for profs who want to include a community-engaged component to their courses.


One of the important things that came out of that meeting for students was the creation of the working groups. In the fall of 2016, the NCCP will have created a number of “working groups” which will be addressing things like community engaged education, research, and service, among others. If any of these topics interest you, you should consider joining a working group in the fall! We’ll keep you updated (via Twitter, most likely, follow @MacPopTheBubble) when opportunities to participate in the working groups come up!

The NCCP also hosts a number of other events throughout the year where students can contribute the community engagement vision of the university. You can subscribe to their email updates here. The MSU in collaboration with the NCCP and a lot of other groups also hosts Change Camp in the winter where students give their feedback on how the school can improve their community engagement initiatives. The Student Community Support Network (SCSN) also provides students with opportunities to engage with the city and engage with the community. Finally, you’re already contributing to community engagement at Mac just by reading this blog! I hope you consider all of the other awesome ways to get engaged with the amazing community that is the city of Hamilton!