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Experience Makes a Difference

Academic studies. Career exploration. Community involvement.

We aim to enrich undergraduate education in the Faculty of Social Sciences through fostering unique approaches to learning within the classroom and more actively engaging students in the community, as well as promoting strong relationships between academic studies, career exploration and community involvement.

Community-Engaged Research in Social Sciences

In McMaster’s Brighter World Strategic Research Plan, the university reaffirms a commitment to advancing research, teaching and training that promotes a better and healthier world for all. In order to achieve this goal, the university recognizes the importance of working collaboratively across faculties and disciplines and in partnership with communities locally, regionally and globally.

The Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS) has a strong foundation in Community-Engaged Research (CER). For example, the work of faculty and staff in the social sciences was key in advancing the need for an Office of Community Engagement and for initiatives like the Research Shop. We continue to develop and sustain initiatives emerging from our investment in the areas of service, research and education in the Hamilton region. Our expertise in and commitment to community-engaged knowledge production and mobilization makes our Faculty ideally suited to support the realization of the Brighter World vision.

In order to better highlight, recognize and advance CER by our faculty, FSS has embarked on a pilot project to systematically identify, inventory and map CER partnerships/projects. We are currently working with the administrators of the university’s Experts database to add new fields to capture CER as well as to develop a linked map to visually display this information.

As a first step, a Faculty-wide Community-Engaged Research Activity Survey was conducted. The aim of the survey was to identify faculty who engaged in CER in 2019 and to learn more about the nature of their partnerships and projects. A total of 130 completed surveys were received, and it was observed that over a quarter of our faculty members engaged in CER in 2019. Those 38 faculty members belong to 7 different departments and engaged in a total of 68 unique research projects in collaboration with 115 community partners across the world. The majority of these projects involved community partners/groups that are based regionally, with 21 being international. Research projects addressed a diverse range of themes and issues and resulted in both conventional and non-conventional knowledge mobilization activities. Another key finding of the survey was that approximately 89% of the community-engaged research projects received external funding. Of those with funding, sources included both academic and non-academic grants. 

To learn more about faculty CER projects impacting communities here and around the world, please see our featured projects.

In the coming months, please keep an eye out for more details about the launch of the CER identification and mapping project.

If you have any questions regarding the Community-Engaged Research Identification and Mapping Project, please contact Leora Sas van der Linden, Program Manager, Community Research Platform at

Featured Projects

Community-Engaged Research: Featured Projects

Over 25 per cent of Social Sciences faculty are engaged in Community-Engaged Research projects addressing a diverse range of themes and issues that result in conventional and non-conventional knowledge-mobilization activities. Learn more about our feature projects.

Myanmar Gender Equality Research Project

Dr. Netina Tan (PI and academic lead) and Dr. Michelle Dion (co-investigator) from the Department of Political Science are part of an international research team working in collaboration with the Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation (EMReF) on a research project entitled Engendering Political Recruitment and Participation at the Party, Local and National Level in Myanmar.
Jun 17, 2020

Better Prospects: Building Knowledge and Networks to Improve Employment Outcomes for Disabled Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Dr. Stephanie Baker-Collins and Dr. Ann Fudge-Schormans from the School of Social Work have been engaged in a multi-year, multi-city, SSHRC funded collaborative research study examining the intersections between intellectual, developmental and learning disabilities, education, and employment among youth experiencing homelessness, in order to identify system-wide gaps and opportunities to develop interventions, improve policy, and further research.
Jun 17, 2020

Two-Row Research Paradigm and Participant’s Experiences

Dr. Bonnie Freeman (PI) from the School of Social Work and Dr. Trish Van Katwyc from the University of Waterloo are engaged in a collaborative research project with Two Row On The Grand Canoe Paddle, a community-driven, alliance building initiative on Six Nations of the Grand River.
Jun 17, 2020

Office of Community Engagement

With a wide range of expertise, we are a resource for the development of community-campus partnerships in Hamilton. We can help you move your ideas into action by creating opportunities to build relationships, share knowledge, and to ultimately make a difference through your work.  We work to develop and support multi-stakeholder collaboration because a variety of perspectives, skills, and approaches are required to address the complex challenges facing our communities.

Research Shop

The McMaster Research Shop works with public, non-profit, and community organizations in Hamilton to provide plain-language answers to research questions. Visit their website to see how they can help with intake, scoping, recruitment, implementation and deliverables.