Public Engagement

Memorial University has always been a publically engaged institution. Since the founding of the University in 1949, the work of many of Memorial's students, faculty and staff has emphasized the importance of strong, sustained partnerships with members of the public of Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond.

What does “public engagement” mean?

At Memorial, public engagement means collaborations between members of the university with members of the public, where the collaborations are characterized by mutual respect, mutual contribution and mutual benefit. A defining characteristic of public engagement partnerships is that the collaborations support the academic mission of the university (including teaching and learning, and research, scholarship and creative activity).

The Office of Public Engagement is the steward of public engagement at the university. The Public Engagement Framework, endorsed by Senate in 2012, establishes public engagement as a core priority at Memorial, as emphasized in the University's mission. Building upon a long history of collaboration and partnerships outside the University, the Public Engagement Framework brings alignment to Memorial's existing public engagement activities, and supports public engagement successes from across the University.

As explained in the Framework, public engagement is a way of doing research and teaching, which results in publicly engaged scholarship: 

PE Venn

Grenfell Office (GO) of Engagement is responsible for implementing Memorial's Engagement Framework at Grenfell Campus, as well as community education programming, experiential learning and career development, and the activities of the Navigate Entrepreneurship Centre.

How does the university benefit from contributions by the public?

Enriched by the public's perspective and expertise, Memorial is ultimately a stronger institution, a hub of knowledge and ideas that serve the greater community. Teaching and Learning experiences are enriched through public engagement methods such as work integrated learning and service learning as students are exposed to an array of perspectives and have the opportunity to practice what they are learning in real world environments. Research, scholarship, and creative activity are strengthened through public engagement when partners and collaborators contribute knowledge and understanding to the development of data, theory, and research products.

How does the public (local, provincial, national, global) benefit from Memorial’s contributions?

Memorial University fulfills a special obligation to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. As the province's only university, Memorial is dedicated to encouraging and supporting publicly engaged work and serving the public good, locally, nationally and internationally. The public benefits from the creation and application of new knowledge in a wide range of fields, including social, economic, environmental, cultural, scientific, and others.

Click here to view a selection of high impact collaborations between members of the Memorial community and external partners: 

The Office of Public Engagement also engages in research to monitor and evaluate engagement within Memorial and beyond. To learn about the process the Office uses to approach engagement research, click here: To learn about the results of some of the most recent research conducted by the Office, click here:

How has engagement changed since the last review?

Since the last review, Memorial created the public engagement framework and the associated office to align activities across the institution. Support is provided through a number of engagement units, some of which report to the AVP External Relations, and some of which provide support to the university and public in other areas.

Office of Public Engagement reporting units

The Office of Public Engagement runs a suite of funding and award programs. The table below illustrates the projects and funding amounts distributed across various faculties, campuses, and units (noted as "Faculty" in the table below) between 2014-21:

PE funds

The Harris Centre, in particular, has been repeatedly recognized for its leadership in knowledge mobilization:

  • In 2017, the Harris Centre won the Economic Developers Association of Canada (EDAC) President’s Award:
    • “In today’s knowledge-based economy, universities play an increasing role in advancing innovation and economic development. In just 13 years, the Harris Centre has become recognized as the Canadian leader in mobilizing university research and expertise to connect with industry, communities and governments.” David Emerson, (former) President of EDAC
  • In 2006, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released “Supporting the Contribution of Higher Education Institutions to Regional Development Peer Review Report: Atlantic Canada”
    • “The PRT also recommends that HEIs themselves consider creating their own internal seed funds, if none already exist, for young researchers who focus on regional community engagement objectives. Again, such grants should, where appropriate, encourage partnership contributions from industry and communities. The research brokerage model of the Harris Centre is worth consideration by other higher education institutions.” (page 67)
    • “While the structure of industry in Atlantic Canada, vis-à-vis other regions, can make it difficult to enhance innovative capacity of the region, the PRT was made aware of a number of successes which may offer a model to build a wider approach for Atlantic Canada. We were impressed in particular with the broker role being played by the Harris Centre at Memorial University where university research and community need are brought together.” (page 63)
    • “Examples of good practice, highlighted throughout this report, include: the Harris Centre at Memorial University, the Mount Allison University Rural and Small Town Programme, and the Institut Canadien de recherché en politiques et administration publiques (CIRPPPA) at l’Université de Moncton.” (page 56)

Other engagement support units across the university include: 

  • The Labrador Institute
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research
  • Genesis Group Inc.
  • Bonne Bay Marine Station
  • Environmental Policy Institute
  • The Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning
  • Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation
  • The Internationalization Office
  • The Fisheries and Marine Institute
  • The Department of Ocean Sciences
  • The Division of Co-op Education
  • The Atlantic Computational Excellence Network
  • C-Core
  • The Research Centre for the Study of Music, Media and Place
  • The Health Research Unit
  • SafetyNet Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Research
  • The Atlantic Canada Venture Gateway
  • The Gardiner Centre
  • The Ocean Engineering Research Centre
  • The Centre for Earth Resources Research Centre (CERR)
  • The Maritime Studies Research Unit


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