Community Engagement

Community engagement is as foundational to the mission of a university as teaching and research. It is a conscious recognition of an institution’s geographical space and imagined place in the world, encompassing the many different activities by which universities facilitate inbound and outbound flows of knowledge, expertise, and resources with its surrounding communities. Its ultimate function is to establish mutually beneficial relationships between the University and community partners, cultivating a spirit of reciprocity and interdependency. The University’s Strategic Priorities emphasize the need to expand outreach and partnerships with our community partners and increase the opportunities for experiential learning in the community. The UTM Academic Plan 2017 supports this endeavour, stating that “UTM must continue to be useful to its community in a direct and applied way, through the education it provides and the long-term benefits of our research.” The EEU is likewise available and ready to support faculty in this endeavour.

High-impact community engagement can offer major benefits for faculty’s teaching and research, from increasing student participation in courses to producing valuable relationships with local organizations and, in the long-term, potentially generating life-changing impacts for our local and international communities. From the lens of experiential learning, community engagement provides valuable opportunities for students to gain practical experience while also growing as active citizens and developing connections with the world beyond campus.

The EEU helps faculty to mobilize community engagement at UTM by:

  • maintaining a database of community engagement activities across the campus; 
  • advising and supporting faculty with the development of community-engaged learning courses; 
  • performing research and networking with organizations to identify community priorities; 
  • promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion through targeted academic programs; and 
  • developing outreach strategies that promote programs to the external community. 


Community-Engaged Learning

Community-Engaged Learning (CEL) is a pedagogical approach that combines academic curriculum with meaningful interactions with external communities. As the U of T Experiential Learning Hub explains, CEL provides “a structured learning experience in partnership with communities or grassroots, non-profit or public organizations” whereby “partnerships are driven by community partner priorities and provide reciprocal benefits to those partners and the students engaged with them.” In accordance with the experiential learning cycle, students will apply disciplinary knowledge in a practical, real-world setting and engage in self-guided reflection, with a particular emphasis on the role of their academic discipline in a community-based setting.  

The EEU supports the development of CEL courses in the following ways: 

  • advising on course design and resources for CEL; 
  • conducting outreach to discover and recruit community partners; 
  • maintaining ongoing relationships with community partners; 
  • facilitating relevant student-, faculty-, and partner-facing documentation; and 
  • supporting promotional efforts with regards to for-credit EL opportunities. 


CEL Course Development Workshop Series

CEL Course Development Workshop Series

The EEU and the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre are pleased to host the Centre for Community Partnerships, who will deliver a CEL Course Development Workshop Series at UTM this coming year. In this three-part workshop series, faculty will be introduced to CEL pedagogy and practice. Each workshop will cover one of the following three topics: (1) the fundamentals of CEL, (2) designing a successful CEL course, and (3) respectful and reciprocal community partner stewardship. Participants will be invited to do some free-writing and engage in breakout group discussions. 

  • Workshop #1: “The Fundamentals of CEL” 
    Thursday, November 2, 2023, at 1:00-3:00pm
    In this workshop we focus on the fundamentals of community-engaged learning (CEL) pedagogy and practice. The workshop will 1) introduce you to what CEL is and how it is defined, why you might want to use a CEL pedagogy, and some models and examples for CEL courses; 2) give you space and time to think through some foundational questions as you begin designing your own CEL course. This introductory workshop is best suited to instructors who are new to CEL. 
  • Workshop #2: “Designing a Successful CEL Course” 
    Thursday, February 8, 2024, at 1:00-3:00pm 
    In this second workshop we focus on the three ‘Ps’ of CEL course development: pedagogy, partnerships, and student preparation. Focusing on the three ‘Ps’, the workshop will: 1) provide you with some practical strategies for designing and running a CEL course; 2) provide you space and time to work on a syllabus you are designing or redesigning for a CEL course you are creating. 
  • Workshop #3: “Respectful and Reciprocal Community Partner Stewardship”  
    Thursday, April 4, 2024, at 1:00-3:00pm 
    In this third workshop we focus on working respectively and equitably with partners from community, grassroots, nonprofit, or public organizations. The workshop will provide you with practical strategies for, and some space and time to reflect on, stewarding partnerships in respectful and reciprocal ways. 

All workshops will be held in person at the Collaborative Digital Research Space (CDRS) in Maanjiwe nendamowinan (MN 3230). Space is limited, so please register as soon as possible.  

Click here to register for the CEL Course Development Workshop Series! 

Please direct any questions about the workshop series to James Malinowski (Community Engagement Officer) at


Community Engagement Inventory 

In support of UTM’s Academic Plan 2017, the EEU has created the UTM Community Engagement Inventory to assist academic units and non-academic campus partners with tracking the wide range of community engagement activities supported by our campus. While the UTM Community Engagement Inventory is still in development, faculty may currently use the database to record community engagement activities and confidentially store community partner information. In the future, the EEU plans to mobilize the database as a public website to help faculty promote their community engagement activities to students and the external community. 

If you would like to contribute your community engagement activities to the UTM Community Engagement Inventory, please contact your Chair or the Unit Editor for your unit.  

Unit Editors can click here to access the Community Engagement Inventory.


Lecture Me! A Series 

Lecture Me! A Series highlights research from different departments by UTM faculty members in a way that is approachable and fun for the whole family. This multidisciplinary series features a different faculty member each month who presents their research to the community.  

Faculty interested in participating in Lecture Me! should e-mail James Malinowski (Community Engagement Officer) at to learn more about how they can participate. 

Click here to learn more about Lecture Me! A Series.