Relationships, Reciprocity and Relevance: Building Healthy Community-University Partnerships



More and more students, faculty, and staff at Canadian universities are exploring ways to make their research, teaching and learning, and public engagement relevant, accessible and aligned with the community. It’s a positive development, but how do we ensure that these efforts are equitable, respectful, and useful to the communities that we serve?

For one thing, we need to be clear about who benefits from community engaged research, and how. Understanding the opportunities, priorities, and constraints of both communities and their university partners is a key step in developing collaborations that make a positive difference.

This process includes listening, learning, and being receptive to new ideas. It is important work, with the potential to enrich everyone involved, but it takes time, energy, and a willingness to engage in equitable cooperation.

Of course, the work of identifying and responding to community-identified priorities shouldn’t reside just with individual researchers and public partners. There is also tremendous opportunity for institutional supports, and a chance to rethink established ways of doing public engagement.

Join the Office of Public Engagement for a conversation about strategies for better ways of building relationships between academic institutions and the communities they serve, and about how institutions, including funders and academic institutions, can better support them.


Carolann Harding, Chief Executive Officer, SmartICE.


Kelly Anne Butler, Indigenous Education Specialist, Office of Indigenous Affairs, and Adjunct Professor, School of Arts and Social Science (Grenfell Campus), Memorial University

Dr. Heather Carnahan, Professor and Lockheed Martin Chair in Marine Simulation and Learning, School of Maritime Studies, Marine Institute.

Bojan Furst, Manager of Knowledge Mobilization, Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development

Garrett Richards, Assistant Professor and Internship Officer, Environmental Policy Initiative, Grenfell Campus, Memorial University

Josh Smee, Chief Executive Officer, Food First NL