On Oct. 27, more than 150 Carleton faculty, staff, students and community partners gathered to formally mark the launch of the university’s new Centre for Community Engagement (CCE). The Centre was established earlier this year to support the value and practice of community engagement, a priority highlighted in Carleton’s Strategic Integrated Plan.

The new Centre is responsible for communicating key community engagement efforts within and outside the university, developing a data system and metrics to track engagement, coordinating communities of practice and monitoring and evaluating impact in collaboration with stakeholders across campus.

Prof. Chantal Trudel, the Centre’s inaugural director, opened the event by acknowledging the Algonquin Anishinaabeg people on whose unceded and unsurrendered territory the Carleton campus is located. “One of my first tasks when I took on this role back in July was to go back and read Kinàmàgawin,” she said. “It seemed that every single page discussed community involvement.”

“Community is a central component of Carleton’s founding story,” said President and Vice-Chancellor Benoit-Antoine Bacon. “The university was built by, for and with the community in 1942 to meet the needs of veterans returning from the Second World War. This deep connection to community continues to be an integral part of Carleton’s mission and activities.”

Carleton recently finalized an extensive review of its institutional community engagement activities as part of its participation in the Canadian Pilot Cohort of the Carnegie Foundation’s Classification for Community Engagement. This effort, led by Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Planning) Lorraine Dyke, Associate Vice-President (Research and International) Karen Schwartz and Prof. Emerita Katherine Graham, helped crystalize a vision for a dedicated Centre for Community Engagement.

“Through the Carnegie application process, we learned about the depth and breadth of the community engagement initiatives that were happening in all areas of the university,” said Schwartz. “We realized that we could improve our community engagement efforts through investing in organizational infrastructure and staffing to help support, promote and measure these activities in a strategic way.”

This work was further underscored by the development of the Strategic Integrated Plan in 2019-20, a process which was co-led by Prof. Lorraine Dyke.

“Carleton has been consistently growing, deepening and refining its commitment to community engagement through key activities,” said Dyke. “Community engagement emerged as a key theme of the Strategic Integrated Plan because we heard from our campus community that they felt strongly about engaging with the broader community in a purposeful and strategic way.”

In alignment with the Strategic Integrated Plan, community engagement has continued to be highlighted in several campus-wide strategies, such as Kinàmàgawin, the Coordinated Accessibility Strategy and the International Strategic Plan.

“Remaining true to its community-inspired roots, Carleton has supported a diversity of community engagement initiatives and activities throughout its history,” said Trudel. “The new Centre builds on this momentum and will serve as a focal point for strategically aligning community engagement across the university and with partners.”

The Centre will work closely with groups across campus that focus specifically on community engagement, including Carleton’s Community Engagement Steering Committee (CESC), the Committee for Community Engaged Pedagogy (CCEP) and Carleton’s Centre for Community Innovation (3ci). In collaboration with key stakeholders—including community partners, faculties and schools, professional and student services, Advancement, the Centre for Indigenous Initiatives and senior leadership—the Centre will develop a Strategic Plan for Community Engagement (SP4CE). The SP4CE Task Force, co-chaired by Profs. Chantal Trudel, Lorraine Dyke and Karen Schwartz, is currently being formed and will soon engage faculty, staff, students and community members.

The launch event also included 24 presentations by individuals and groups from across campus. They reflected an impressive breadth of collective community engagement expertise. The presentations were divided into six thematic areas that covered relevant topics, such as how to begin engaging with community partners, how to evaluate community engagement and the challenges and opportunities that the pandemic has provided. Each session was recorded and will soon be added to the Centre for Community Engagement website to allow the Carleton community to refer to them as a source of inspiration and guidance.

In closing the event, Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Jerry Tomberlin recognized the collaborative leadership efforts across campus that led to the establishment of the new Centre.

We continue to honour Carleton’s deep community roots,” he said. “There are so many community engagement initiatives woven into the history of our institution, many of which have been led by people who were part of today’s event, and we thank you for your continued leadership in these endeavours.”

Alternative Spring Break, Student Experience Office , Students at Ravens Way in Nogales, Arizona

Students gather at Ravens Way in Nogales, Arizona as part of Carleton’s Alternative Spring Break program run by the Student Experience Office.

The Centre for Community Engagement will support the extensive and diverse spectrum of community engagement activity that is already in action across Carleton’s campus, including:

  • Curricular and co-curricular engagement opportunities,
  • Courses where learning outcomes are designed to implement and assess an activity related to community engagement, including the new Minor in Community Engagement,
  • Courses where experiential learning is emphasized and tied to community engagement,
  • Research projects,
  • Internships, co-ops and other career exploration opportunities,
  • Study abroad programming,
  • Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre,
  • Alternative Spring Break Program (domestic and international),
  • Programming and opportunities related to social innovation/entrepreneurship,
  • Community service projects outside and within campus,
  • Student leadership training,
  • Student teaching training (tutoring, teaching assistants), and
  • Community outreach through a variety of programs.